Page images

the grand jury, which do not exceed fix, exhibit a veneration for the laws of his coun. try; a just and spirited encomium on the trial by jury, as the greatest and most invaluable right derived from them to the subject; a detestation of crimes, combined with mercy towards the offender; occasional elucidations of the law; and the strongest feelings of humanity and benevolence. By his knowledge of the Sanscrit and Arabic, he was eminently qualified to promote the administration of justice in the Supreme Court, by detecting misrepresentations of the Hindu or Mohammedan laws, and by correcting impositions in the form of administering oaths to the followers of Brahma and Mohammed. If no other benefit had resulted from his ftudy of these languages, than the compilation of the digest, and the translation of Menu and of two Mohammedan law-tracts, this application of his talents to promote objects of the first importance to India and Europe, would have entitled him to the acknowledgments of both countries. Of his studies in

general it may be observed, that the end which he had always in view, was practical utility ; that knowledge was not accumulated by him, as a source of mere intellectual recreation, or to gratify an idle curiosity, or for the idler purpose of oftentatiously displaying his acquisitions; to render himself useful to his country and mankind, and to promote the prosperity of both, were the primary and permanent motives of his indefatigable exertions in the pursuit of knowledge.

The inflexible integrity with which he difcharged the solemn duty of this station, will long be remembered in Calcutta, both by Europeans and natives. So cautious was he to guard the independence of his character from any possibility of violation or imputation, that no solicitation could prevail upon him, to use his personal influence with the members of administration in India, to advance the private interests of friends whom he esteemed, and which he would have been happy to promote. He knew the dignity, and felt the importance, of his office: and,

convinced that none could afford him more ample scope for exerting his talents to the benefit of mankind, his ambition never extended beyond it. No circumstance occasioned his death to be more lamented by the public, than the loss of his abilities as judge, of which they had had the experience of eleven years.

When we consider the time required for the study of the law as a profession, and that portion of it, which was devoted by Sir William Jones to the discharge of his duties as judge and magistrate in India, it must

appear astonishing, that he should have found leifure for the acquisition of his numerous attainments in science and literature, and for completing the voluminous works which have been given to the public. On this subject I shall, I trust, be excused for using, as I may

find convenient, my own language in a discourse which I addressed to the Asiatic society a few days after his decease.

There were in truth few sciences in which he had not acquired considerable proficiency;

in most, his knowledge was profound. The theory of music was familiar to him, nor had he neglected to render himself acquainted with the interesting discoveries lately made in chemistry; and I have heard him assert, that his admiration of the structure of the human frame, induced him to attend for a season, to a course of anatomical lectures delivered by his friend, the celebrated Hunter, Of his skill in mathematics I am so far qualified to speak, that he frequently perufed and solved the problems in the Principia.

His last and favourite pursuit was the study of botany. It conftituted the principal amusement of his leisure hours. In the arrangement of Linnæus, he discovered fyftem, truth, and science, which never failed to captivate and engage his attention ; and from the proofs which he has exhibited of his progress in botany, we may conclude, if he had lived, that he would have extended the discoveries in that fcience*. From two

* Besides occasional botanical information, we have in

66 If

of the essays mentioned in the note, I shall transcribe two short extracts which mark his judgment and delicacy of sentiment.

botany could be described by metaphors s drawn from the science itself, we may just' ly pronounce a minute acquaintance with plants, their clases, orders, kinds, and * Species, to be its flowers, which can only

produce fruit by an application of that “ knowledge to the purposes of life, particularly to diet by which diseases


be « avoided, and to medicine by which they may “ be remedied.” On the indelicacy of the Linnæan definitions, he observes, “ Hence « it is that no well-born and well-educated

woman can be advised to amuse herself

“ with botany, as it is now explained, though ** a more elegant and delightful study, or one

the works of Sir William Jones, vol. v. p. i, a little tract intitled, The Design of a Treatise on the Plants of India, p. 55; A Catalogue of 420 Indian Plants, comprehending their Sanscrit and as many of the Linnæan generic names, as could with any degree of precision be ascertained; and, p. 62, Botanical Observations on seventy select Indian Plants, which last was a posthumous publication.

« PreviousContinue »