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Sir William Jones to Thomas Caldicott, Efq.
Crishna-nagur, Sept. 27, 1787. Your brother sent me your letter at a convenient time, and to a convenient place, for I can only write in the long vacation, which I generally spend in a delightful cottage, about as far from Calcutta as Oxford is from London, and close to an ancient university of Brahmans, with whom I now converse familiarly in Sanscrit. You would be astonished at the resemblance between that language and both Greek and Latin. Sanscrit and Arabic will enable me to do this country more essential service, than the introduction of arts (even if I should be able to introduce them) by procuring an accurate digest of Hindu and Mohammedan laws, which the natives hold sacred, and by which both justice and policy require that they should be governed.
I have published nothing ; but Armenian clerks make such blunders, that I print ten or twenty copies of every thing I compose,
which are to be considered as manuscripts. I beg you will send me your remarks on my plan of an epic poem. Sanscrit has engaged my vacations lately; but I will finish it, if I live. I promise you to attend to all that is said, especially if alterations are suggested, always reserving to myself the final judgment. One thing I am inflexible in ; I have maturely considered the point, and am resolved to write in blank verse. I have not time to add
my reasons; but they are good.
I thank you for Sheridan's speech, which I could not however read through. For the last sixteen years of my life, I have been in a habit of requiring evidence of all affertions, and I have no leisure to examine proofs in a business so foreign to my pursuits.
If Hastings and Impey are guilty, in God's name let them be punished; but let them not be condemned without legal evidence. I will say more of myself, than you do of yourself, but in few words. I never was unhappy in England; it was not in my nature to be so;
but I never was happy till I was settled in India. My constitution has overcome the climate; and if I could say the same of
beloved wife, I should be the happiest of men; but she has perpetual complaints, and of course I am in perpetual anxiety on her account.
Sir William Jones to y. Wilmot, Esq.
Crishnd-nagur, Bengal, Oct. 3, 1787.
cannot, however, let the feason flip, without fcribbling a few lines to tell
my constitution seems to have overcome the climate, and that I fhould be as happy as mortal man can be, or perhaps ought to be, if my wife had been as well as I have for the last three years.
I have nothing to say of India politics, except that Lord Cornwallis and * * * are juftly popular, and perhaps the moft virtuous governors in the world. Of English politics I fay nothing; because I doubt whether you and I should ever agree in them. I do not mean the narrow politics of contending par
ties, but the great principles of government and legislation, the majesty of the whole nation collectively, and the consistency of popular rights with regal prerogative, which ought to be supported, to suppress the oligarchical power. But in India I think little of these matters.
Sir William Jones to 7. Shore, Esq.
Crishna-nagur, Oct. 10, 1787. I hope in less than a fortnight to see you in perfect health, as I shall leave this charming retreat on the 20th. I want but a few leaves of having read your copy of Hafez twice through ; and I am obliged to you for the most agreeable task (next the Shah-nameh) I ever performed. The annexed elegy * was sent to me by the post; and I send it to you, because I think you will like it. There
* The elegy alluded to, which has been since printed in a collection of poems, is the following:
PHILEMON. An Elegy. Where shade yon yews the church-yard's lonely bourn, With faultering step, absorb'd in thought profound, Philemon wends in solitude to mourn, While evening pours her deep’ning glooms around.
is a great pathos in the fourth tetrastick; and I know unhappily that excessive grief is neither full of tears, nor full of words ; yet if a dramatic poet were to represent such grief naturally, I doubt whether his conduct would be approved, though with fine acting and fine sounds in the orchestra, it ought to have a wonderful effect. Lady J. is pretty well; a tiger about a month old, who is suckled by a goat, and has all the gentleness of his fostermother, is now playing at her feet. I call him Jupiter. Adieu.
Loud shrieks the blast, the steety torrent drives,