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and professed, he could not suffer the attack to pass without reprehension, and he grounded it on premises, which his opponents could not dispute, nor did they venture to ánswer.
From Hinzuan to the Ganges, nothing material occurred, and he landed at Calcutta, in September 1783. His reputation had preceded his arriyal, which was anxiously expected, and he had the happiness to find, that his appointment had diffused a general satisfaction, which his presence now rendered complete. The Students of the Oriental languages were eager to welcome a scholar, whose erudition in that branch of literature was unrivalled, and whose labours and genius had assisted their progress; while the public rejoiced in the possession of a magiffrate, whose probity and independence were no less acknowledged than his abilities.
With what rapture he himself contemplated his new situation, may be more easily conceived than described. As a magistrate of the supreme court of judicature, he had
new that opportunity, which he ever ardently desired, of devoting his talents to the service of his native country, and of promoting the happiness of the community in which he resided; while the history, antiquities, natural productions, arts, sciences, and literature of Asia, opened an extensive and almost boundless field to his enquiries. He was now placed amidst a people, whose tenfions to antiquity had hitherto eluded research, and whose manners, religion, and customs, still retained the fame characteristical peculiarities, by which they were originally distinguished. Time, who spreads the veil of oblivion over the opinions and works of mankind, who annihilates empires and the records of their existence, had spared the doctrines and language of the followers of Brama, and amidst the ravages of conquest and oppressions of tyranny, seemed to protect with parental care some of the earliest monuments of his reign. The Hindoos in fact presented to the observation of Sir William Jones, a living picture of antiquity :
and although the colouring might be somewhat faded and obscured, the lineaments of the original character were still discernible by the moft superficial observer, whilft he remarked them with discrimination and
In December 1783, he entered upon his judicial functions, and, at the opening of the sessions, delivered his first charge to the grand jury. The public had formed a high estimate of his oratorical powers, nor were they disappointed. His address was elegant, concise, and appropriate; the exposition of his sentiments and principles was equally manly and conciliatory, and calculated to inspire general satisfaction, as the known fincerity of his character was a test of his adherence to his professions. In glancing at dissentions, which, at no remote period, had unfortunately prevailed between the fupreme executive and judicial powers in Bengal, he fhewed that they might and ought to be avoided, that the functions of both were distinct, and could be exercised without danger
of collision, in promoting what should be the object of both, the public good.
In the intervals of leisure from his profesfional duties, he directed his attention to scientific objects; he soon saw that the field of research in India, was of an extent to baffle the industry of any individual; and that whatever success might attend his own indefatigable labours, it could only be explored by the united efforts of many. With these ideas, he devised the institution of a society in Calcutta, on the plan of those established in the principal cities of Europe, as best calculated to excite and facilitate the enquiries of the ingenious, as affording the means of preserving the numerous little tracts and essays, which otherwise would be lost to the public, and of concentrating all the valuable knowledge, which might be obtained in Asia. The suggestion was received with the greatest satisfaction by several gentlemen to whom he communicated it, and the members of the new association assembled for the first time, in January 1784.
The repetition of a narrative, which has already appeared in several publications*, may be deemed superfluous; but a detail of the circumstances attending the formation of an Institution, of which Sir William Jones was not only the founder, but the brightest ornament, cannot with propriety be omitted in the memoirs of his life.
It had been resolved to follow, as nearly as poslible, the plan of the Royal Society in London, of which the King is the patron, and at the first ineeting, it was therefore agreed, to address the Governor-General and Council of Bengal, explaining the objects of the society, and foliciting the honour of their patronage, which was granted in the most flattering terms of approbation. The members next proceeded to the nomination of a president: and as Warren Hastings, Esquire, then Governor-General of India, had distinguished himself as the first libéral promoter of useful knowledge in Bengal, and especially
* Asiatic Researches, vol. i. Introduction. The account is omitted in the works of Sir William Jones.