Page images

liam Jones, nor for the reflections to which they have naturally led. The former display that part

of his character, which alone is now important to his happiness; and I am authorized to add, not only from what appears in . his printed works and private memoranda, in more than one of which, containing a delineation of his daily occupations, I find a portion of time allotted to the perusal of the Scriptures, but from private and fatisfactory testimony, that the writings of our beft divines engaged a large share of his attention, and that private devotion was not neglected by him. The following lines, which afford a proof both of his taste and piety, were written by him after a perusal of the eighth sermon of Barrow, in his retirement, at Crishna-nagur, in 1786; and with these I shall conclude


observations on his religious opinions:

As meadows parch’d, brown groves, and withering flow'rs;
Imbibe the sparkling dew and genial show'rs;
As chill dark air inhales the morning beam,
As thirsty harts enjoy the gelid stream;
Thus to man's grateful soul from heav'n descend,
The mercies of his FATHER, LOR), and FRIEND.


I now turn to the last scene of the life of Sir William Jones. The few months allotted to his existence after the departure of Lady Jones, were devoted to his usual occupations, and more particularly to the discharge of that duty which alone detained him in India ; the completion of the digest of Hindu and Mohammedan law. But neither the consciousness of acquitting himself of an obligation which he had voluntarily contracted, nor his incessant assiduity, could fill the vacuity occasioned by the absence of her, whose society had fweetened the toil of application, and cheered his hours of relaxation.

Their habits were congenial, and their pursuits in some respects similar: his botanical researches were facilitated by the eyes of Lady Jones, and by her talents in drawing; and their evenings were generally passed together, in the perusal of the best modern authors in the different languages of Europe. After her departure, he mixed more in promiscuous society; but his affections were transported with her to his native country

On the evening of the 20th of April, or nearly about that date, after prolonging his walk to a late hour, during which he had imprudently remained in conversation, in an unwholesome situation, he called upon the writer of these sheets, and complained of aguish symptoms, mentioned his intention to take some medicine, and repeating jocularly an old proverb, that “ an ague in the spring is medi“ cine for a king.” He had no suspicion at the time, of the real nature of his indisposition, which proved in fact to be a complaint common in Bengal, an inflammation in the liver. The diforder was, however, foon discovered by the penetration of the physician, who after two or three days was called in to his assistance; but it had then advanced too far to yield to the efficacy of the medicines usually prescribed, and they were administered in vain. The progress of the complaint was uncommonly rapid, and terminated fatally on the 27th of April, 1794. On the morning of that day, his attendants, alarmed at the evident symnptoms of approaching diffolution, came precipi

tately to call the friend who has now the melancholy task of recording the mournful event. Not a moment was lost in repairing to his house. He was lying on his bed in a posture of meditation;, and the only symptom of remaining life was a small degree of motion in the heart, which after a few seconds ceased, and he expired without a pang or groan. His bodily suffering, from the complacency of his features and the ease of his attitude, could not have been severe; and his mind must have derived consolation from those sources where he had been in the habit of seeking it, and where alone, in our last moments, it can ever be found.

The deep regret which I felt at the time, that the apprehensions of the attendants of Sir William Jones had not induced them to give me earlier notice of the extremity of his situation, is not yet obliterated. It would have afforded me an opportunity of performing the pleasing but painful office, of soothing his last moments, and I should have felt the sincerest gratification in receiving his latest


commands; nor would it have been lefs fatisfactory to the public, to have known the dying sentiments and behaviour of a man, who had so long and deservedly enjoyed so large a portion of their esteem and admiration.

An anecdote of Sir William Jones (upon whať authority I know not) has been recorded; that immediately before his diffolution, he retired to his closet, and expired in the act of adoration to his Creator. Such a circumstance would have been conformable to his prevailing habits of thinking and reflection : but it is not founded in fact; he died upon his bed, and in the same room in which he had remained from the commencement of his in disposition.

The funeral ceremony was performed on the following day with the honours due to his public station : and the numerous attendance of the most respectable British inhabitants of Calcutta, evinced their sorrow. for his loss, and their respect for his memory.

If my success in describing the life of Sir William Jones has been proportionate to my

« PreviousContinue »