Page images

not quite recovered from a severe cold and rheumatism, attended with a fever.

Remember that I am always ready to relieve you at the chambers in the Loll Bazar*, and will cheerfully take the labouring oar next month if you please ; especially, as I propose to spend the long vacation in a floating house, and to leave Calcutta as soon as the session is over ; but I shall return dead or alive before the 22d of October. I am inexpressibly amused by a Persian translation of an old Sanscrit book, called Siry Bha'gwat, which comprizes almost the whole of the Hindu religion, and contains the life and achievements of Crijhen; it is by far the most entertaining book, on account of its novelty and wildness, that I ever read. Farewell, and believe me, dear Sir, Ever affectionately yours,


* A house in Calcutta, where the puisné judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature attended by rotation in the. evening, as justices of the peace.

[ocr errors]



Calcutta, March 10, 1784. You would readily excuse my delay in answering your obliging letter, if


could form an idea of the incessant hurry and confusion, in which I have been kept ever since my arrival in Bengal, by necessary business, or necessary formalities, and by the difficulty of settling myself to my mind, in a country so different from that which I have left. I. am indeed at best, but a bad correspondent; for I never write by candle-light, and find so much Arabic or Persian to read, that all

my leisure in a morning, is hardly sufficient for a thousandth part of the reading that would be highly agreeable and useful to me; and as I purpose to spend the long vacation


the country, I wish to be a match in conversation with the learned natives, whom I may happen

to meet.

I rejoice that you are so near, but lament that you are not nearer, and am not without hope, that you may one day be tempted to

visit Bengal, where I flatter myself you will give me as much of your company as possible.

Many thanks for your kind hints in regard to my health. As to me, I do not expect, as long as I stay in India, to be free from a bad digestion, the morbus literatorum, for which there is hardly any remedy, but abstinence from too much food, literary and culinary. I rife before the fun, and bathe after a gentle ride; my diet is light and sparing, and I go early to rest; yet the activity of my mind is too strong for my conftitution, though naturally not infirm, and I must be satisfied with a valetudinarian state of health. If you should meet with


curiosities on the coast, either in

your botanical rambles or in reading, and will communicate them to our society, lately instituted for enquiring into the history, civil and natural, the antiquities, arts, sciences, and literature of Asia, we shall give you our hearty thanks. There is an Abyssinian here, who knew Mr. Bruce at Gwender. I have exa. mined him, and he confirms Bruce's account. Every day fupplies me with something new

Life~V. II.


in Oriental learning, and if I were to stay. here half a century I should be continually amused.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

I am discouraged from writing to you as copiously as I wish, by the fear that my letter may never reach you.

I inclose however a hymn to the Indian cupid, which is here said to be the only correct specimen of Hindu mythology that has appeared ; it is certainly new and quite original, except the form of the stanza, which is Milton's. I add the character of Lord Alhburton, which my zeal for his fame prompted me publish *.


* Lord Ashburton died on the 18th of August 1783.. His character, written by Sir William Jones, is published in vol. viii. of his works, page 538. I transcribe from it. the last paragraph, as a proof of the gratitude and sensibility of the writer.

« For some months before his death, the nursery had “ been his chief delight, and gave him more pleasure " than the cabinet could have afforded: but this parental

Had I dreamt that the dialogue would have made such a stir, I should certainly have taken more pains with it. I will never cease to avow and justify the doctrine comprised in it. I meant it merely as an imitation of one of Plato's, where a boy wholly ignorant of geometry, is made by a few simple questions to demonstrate a proposition, and I intended to inculcate, that the principles of government were so obvious and intelligible, that a clown might be brought to understand them. As to raising sedition, I as much thought of raising a church.

« affection, which had been a source of so much felicity,

was probably a cause of his fatal illness. He had lost

one son, and expected to lose another, when the author “ of this painful tribute to his memory, parted from him, “ with tears in his eyes, little hoping to see him again in “a perishable state. As he perceives, without affectation, " that his tears now steal from him, and begin to moisten “the paper on which he writes, he reluctantly leaves a “ subject, which he could not soon have exhausted; and “ when he also shall resign his life to the great Giver of it, he desires no other decoration of his humble

gravea stone, than this honourable truth: “ With none to flatter, none to recommend, “ DUNNING approv'd, and mark’d him as a friend."

« PreviousContinue »