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infidels of India. On the whole, it is the most amusing and instructive book I ever read in Persian *.
I hear nothing from Europe, but what all the papers contain ; and that is enough to make me rejoice exceedingly, that I am in Asia. Those with whom I have spent some of my happiest hours, and hope to spend many more on my return to England, are tearing one another to pieces, with the enmity that is proverbial here, of the snake and the ichneumon. I have nothing left therefore, but to wish what is right and just may prevail, to discharge my public duties with unremitted attention, and to recreate myself at leisure with the literature of this interesting country.
* The Dabistan, is a treatise on twelve different religions, composed by a Mohammedan traveller, a native of Cashmir, named Mohsun, but distinguished by the assumed name of Fani, or perishable. Sir William Jones, in his sixth discourse to the society, on the Persians, refers to it as a rare and interesting tract, which had cast a gleam of light on the primeval history of Iran and the human race, of which he had long despaired, and which could hardly have dawned from any other quarter.
Sir William Jones to y. Shore, Esq.
Crishna-nagur, Aug. 16, 1787. I thank you heartily, my dear Sir, for the tender strains of the unfortunate Charlotte *, which have given us pleasure and pain ; the fonnets which relate to herself are incomparably the best. Petrarca is little known; his sonnets, especially the first book, are the least valuable of his works, and contain less natural sentiments than those of the swan of Avon; but his odes which are political, are equal to the lyric poems of the Greeks; and his triumphs are in a triumphant strain of sublimity and magnificence. Anna Maria gives you many thanks for the pleasure you have procured her. We are in love with this pastoral cottage; but though these three months are called a vacation, yet I have no vacant hours. It rarely happens that favourite studies are closely connected with the strict discharge of our duty, as mine happily are; even in this cottage I am assisting the court
* Sonnets by Charlotte Smith.
by studying Arabic and Sanscrit, and have
pundit, Rhadaсaunt, who refused, I hear, the office of pundit to the court, and told Mr. Hastings that he would not accept of it, if the salary were doubled; his fcruples were probably religious; but they would put it out of
my power to serve him, should the office again be vacant. His unvarnished tale I would have repeated to you, if we had not missed one another on the river ; but since I despair of seeing you until my return to Calcutta, at the end of October, I will set it down here, as nearly as I can recollect, in his own words: My father (said he) died at the age
of * an hundred years, and my mother, who
was eighty years old, became a sati, and “ burned herself to expiate sins. They left
little besides good principles. Hastings purchased for me a piece of land,
“ which at first yielded twelve hundred rupees
a year; but lately, either through my in“ attention or through accident, it has pro“ duced only one thousand. This would be “ sufficient for me and my family ; but the 6c duty of Brahmans is not only to teach the
youths of their sect, but to relieve those “ who are poor. I made many presents to
poor scholars and others in distress, and for “ this purpose I anticipated my income: I
was then obliged to borrow for my family
expenses, and I now owe about three “ thousand rupees. This debt is my only 66 cause of uneasiness in this world. I would “ have mentioned it to Mr. Shore, but I was - ashamed.”
Now the question is, how he can be set upon his legs again, when I hope he will be more prudent. If Bahman * should return to Persia, I can afford to give him one hundred rupees a month, till his debt shall be discharged out of his rents ; but at present, I pay inore
* A parsi and a native of Yezd, employed by Sir William Jones as a reader.
in salaries to my native scholars than I can well afford; nevertheless I will cheerfully join you
any mode of clearing the honest man, that can be suggested ; and I would affist him merely for his own fake, as I have more Brahmanical teachers than I can find time
I send you not an elegant pathetic fonnet, but the wildest and strangest poem that was ever written, Khakani's complaint in prison. The whole is a menace, that he would change his religion, and seek protection among the Christians, or the Gabres. It contains one or two proper names, of which I find no full explanation even in a commentary professedly written to illustrate the
The fire of Khakani's genius blazes through the smoke of his erudition; the measure of the poem, which will enable you to correct the errors of the copies, is
with a strong accent on the last syllable of each foot. Adieu, my dear Sir, &c.