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jects of investigation which increasing knowledge had discovered to him, and an intention to pursue the line of his researches through Persia or China, by a circuitous rout to his native country; and at an earlier period, when the extent of the field of investigation appeared boundless, he had declared his determination to remain in India until the close of the century, if it should please God to prolong his life. But affection set limits to his zeal for knowledge, and when it was finally settled that Lady Jones should return to England, he determined himself to follow her in the ensuing season, hoping by this period to have discharged his engagements with the
government of India. She embarked in December
In the beginning of 1794, Sir William Jones published a work, in which he had long been engaged,-a translation of the Ordinances of Menu, comprising the Indian system of duties religious and civil. This task was fuggested by the same motives, which had induced him to undertake the compilation of the di
geft; to aid the benevolent intentions of the legislature of Great Britain, in securing to the natives of India the administration of justice, to a certain extent, by their own laws. Menu is esteemed by the Hindus the first of created beings, and not the oldest only, but the holiest, of legislators; and his system is so comprehenfive and so minutely exact, that it may be confidered as an institute of Hindu law, prefatory to the more copious digest.
This work, to use the words of the tranflator, contains abundance of curious matter, extremely interesting both to speculative lawyers and antiquaries, with many beauties, which need not be pointed out, and with many blemishes, which cannot be justified or palliated. It is indeed a system of despotism and priestcraft, both limited by law, but artfully conspiring to give mutual support, though with mutual checks; it is filled with strange conceits in m'etaphysicks and natural philofophy, with idle superstitions, and with a scheme of theology most obfcurely figurative, and consequently liable to dangerous misconcep
tion; it abounds with minute and childish formalities, with ceremonies generally absurd, and often ridiculous; the punishments are partial and painful, for some crimes dreadfully cruel, for others reprehensibly slight: and the very morals, though rigid enough on the whole, are in one or two instances (as in the case of light oaths and pious perjury) unaccountably relaxed; nevertheless, a spirit of sublime devotion, of benevolence to mankind, and of amiable tenderness to all creatures, pervades the whole work; the style of it has a certain austere majesty, that sounds like the language of legislation, and extorts a respectful awe; the sentiments of independence upon all beings but God, and the harsh admonitions even to kings, are truly noble; and the many panegyrics on the Gayatri, the mother, as it is called, of the vedá, prove the author to have adored, not the visible material fun, but that divine and incomparably greater light, to use the words of the most venerable text in the Indian Scripture, which illumines all, delights all, from which all proceed, to which all must
return, and which can alone irradiate, not our visual organs, but our souls and our intellects,
The appreciation of a work, which had occupied so large a portion of his time and attention, affords a proof of the judgment and candour of Sir William Jones. The ordinances of Menu are by no means calculated for general reading ; but they exhibit the manners of a remarkable people, in a remote age, and unfold the principles of the moral and religious systems, to which the Hindus have invariably adhered, notwithstanding their long subjection to a foreign dominion.
I now present to the reader, the last letter which I received from Sir William Jones, written two months before the departure of Lady Jones from India.
MY DEAR SIR,
A few days after I troubled
about the yacht, I felt a severe pang on hearing of your
domestic misfortune; and I felt more for you than I should for most men, on so melancholy an occasion, because I well know the
sensibility of your heart. The only topic of consolation happily presented itself to you: reason perhaps might convince us, that the death of a created being never happens without the will of the Creator, who governs
this world by a special interposition of his providential care ; but, as this is a truth which Revelation expressly teaches us, our only true comfort in affliction must be derived from Christian philosophy, which is so far from encouraging us to stifle our natural feelings, that even the divine Author of it wept on the death of a friend. This doétrine, though superfluous to you, is always present to my mind; and I shall have occasion in a few years, by the course of nature, to press it on the mind of Lady Jones, the great age of whose mother is one of my reasons for hoping most anxiously, that nothing may prevent her returning to England this season.
I will follow her as soon as I can, possibly at the beginning of 1795, but probably not till the season after that; for although I shall have more than enough to supply all the