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Sir William Jones to Dr. Ford.
Gardens, on the Ganges, Jun. 5, 1788, . Give me leave to recommend to your kind attentions Colonel Polier, who will deliver this to you at Oxford. He presents to the university an extremely rare work in Sanscrit, a copy of the four vedas, or Indian scriptures, which confirm, instead of opposing the Mofaic account of the creation, and of the deluge. He is himself one of the best-disposed and best informed men, who ever left India. If he embark to-morrow, I shall not be able to send you, by him, an Arabic manuscript, which I have read with a native of Mecca, the
poems of the great Ali.
Qur return to Europe is very distant; but I hope, before the end of the eighteenth century, to have the pleasure of conversing with you, and to give you a good account of Persia, through which I purpose to return.
Sir William Jones to Sir Joseph Banks.
Gardens, near Calcutta, Feb. 25, 1788. I was highly gratified by your kind letter, and have diffused great pleasure among our astronomers here, by shewing them an account of the lunar volcano. The Brahmans, to whom I have related the discovery in Sanscrit, are highly delighted with it. Public business presses on me fo heavily at this season, that I must postpone the pleasure of writing fully to you, till I can retire in the long vacation to my cottage, where I hear nothing of plaintiffs or defendants. Your second commission I will faithfully execute, and have already made enquiries concerning the dacca cotton; but I shall be hardly able to procure the seeds, &c. before the Rodney fails.
These letters describe the elegant occupations of a mind disciplined in the school of science, ardent to embrace it in all its extent, and to make even its amusements subservient
to the advancement of useful knowledge, and the public good. From the discharge of his appointed duties, we see Sir William Jones returning with avidity to his literary pursuits, improving his acquaintance with botany, and, relaxing from the severity of Audy by the perufal of the most admired Oriental authors, communicating his pleasures and acquirements to his friends. There are few of his letters in which he does not introduce the name of Lady Jones, with that affection which never abated: she was his constant companion, and the associate of the literary entertainment which occupied and amused his evenings.
Amongst the letters which I have transcribed, I cannot pass, without particular notice, that which he wrote to me in the beginning of 1787. The prediction which it contains, is a melancholy proof of the disappointment of human expectations; and I am now discharging the duty of affection for his memory, at a short distance only from the spot which he mentions, as the anticipated scené of future delight, and where I once fondly
hoped to enjoy the happiness of his society. That happiness would indeed have imparted a higher bloom to the valleys of Devonshire, which I now trace with the melancholy recollec?ion, that the friend whom I loved, and whose virtues I admired, is no more.
The introduction of the unvarnished tale of his respectable Hindu friend, is a proof of that kindness and sensibility, which he ever felt for distressed merit. It is superfluous to add, what the reader will have anticipated, that the disposition to relieve his wants was not suffered to evaporate in mere profession.
In the midst of his public duties and literary employments, political speculations had but little share of his attention; yet the sentiments which he occasionally expresses on this subject, do honour to his heart, and prove that the welfare of his country was always nearest to it.
The hope with which he flatters himself, that his constitution had overcome the climate, was unfortunately ill-founded; few months elapsed without his suffering from the effects
of it, and every attack had a tendency to weaken the vigour of his frame.
Among other literary designs which he meditated, he mentions the plan of an epic poem. It was founded on the same story which he had originally selected for a composition of the same nature in his twenty-second year, the discovery of England by Brutus; but his acquaintance with Hindu mythology had fuggested to him the addition of a machinery perfectly new, by the introduction of the agency
of the Hindu deities; and however wild or extravagant the fiction may appear, the discordancy may be easily reconciled by the actual subjection of Hindustan to the British dominion, poetically visible to the guardian angels of that country. The first hint of this poem, was not suggested by the example of Pope, but by a passage in a letter of Spenser to Sir Walter Raleigh *; it is evident however, that Sir William Jones was not disposed to abandon the execution of his
* Appendix A.