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to begin. To follow the order of time, I must in the first place give you my hearty thanks for
your kind and pleasing letter of last week, which shews that your mind can grasp the whole field of literature and criticism, as well as that of politics, and that in the manner of ancient rulers in Asia, particularly Cicero, the governor of Cilicia, you unite the character of the statesman and the scholar. Next for the news, which has on the whole given me pleasure, and in particular, what both pleases and surprises me, that Lord Camden has accepted the post of president of the council. You know the opinion which I early formed of Pitt; and that opinion will be raised still higher, if he has shewn himself (not merely indifferent, but) anxious that the reins of this government may long continue in the hands which now hold them, and which, though mortals, as Addison says, cannot command success, will certainly deserve it. I anxiously wish, for the sake of the public, that not only the operations of the law, but the cordial aflent of those on whom it
depends, have already secured your seat, as long as it may be consistent with your happiness to fill it.
I will not fail to talk with Mr. Chambers on the college, and beg you to assure yourself, that I shall ever be happy in my sphere to
humble affistance whenever you may require it.
Sir William Jones to y. Macpherson, Esq.
May 22, 1785. It was my intention to present you in the author's name, the books which I now send. The poet Zainudeen was recommended to me soon after I came to India, as a worthy ingenious old man. I inclose his verses to you, with a hafty translation *
* This translation, as a specimen of the taste and adulatory style of modern Persian poets, is inserted for the reader's entertainment.
Macpherson exalted as the sky, prosperous in thy undertakings, who like the sun receivest even atoms in thy beams! Thou art the just one of this age, and in thy name, that of Nushirovan revives. With the aid of
on the back of the paper, of the best couplets. The smaller volume contains part of the epic Jesus (blessed be his name !) the government acquires its stability from thy mind. I have composed a poem in words of truth, beginning with a panegyric on the company. It contains a recital of the wars of the English, described with an animated per. By the command of Hastings, entitled to reverence, I began a book on the victory of Benares; but before the completion of my task, that honourable man returned to his country. In thy government has my work been completed, and with thy name have I adorned its opening, in hope that thou wilt send me fresh materials, to decorate with golden verses the checks of my book. If I compose a Shalinamel, on the glorious name of the King of England, the book will fly over Iran and Turan, and the deeds of thy nation will blaze like the sun; if I sing the achievements of the English, the name of Parveiz will be no more mentioned. If I open a chapter of their conquests, Afrasiab will tremble under the earth; the rapid motion of my dark reed will make Rustem halt and droop. Hear my strains with discernment, and my pen shall soar with the wings of a falcon. Favour me, as Sultan Mahmoud shewed kindness to Ferdosi, that we may be a pair of tuneful nightingales.
The actions of all nations are commemorated, let those of the English be celebrated under thy auspices. May thy orders be resistless as the sea; the head of the contumacious be in thy power, and the seal of government bear thy name!
On the names mentioned in this translation, it may be sufficient to observe that Ferdosi is the Homer of Persia,
poem, which is written with enthusiasm; and the other volume is filled with odes and elegies, all in the old man's writing. He is married to immortal verse, and his highest ambition is to be an atom in one of your sunbeams.
Sir William Jones to . Macpherson, Esq.
May, 1785. The ornament of the faith (for that is the bard's name) Zainudeen will wait upon you on Wednesday; his style of compliments is moderate in comparison of most Oriental compositions; other poets of this country would have entreated you not to ride on horseback, left you should cause an earthquake in India when you mounted.
mounted. This was actually said to a prince at Delhi, who pleasantly bade the poet comfort himself, and assured him, that he would ever after
in a palanquin.
who composed an heroic poem under the title of Shahnameh; that the name of Nushirovan, is proverbial for justice; that Iran and Turan are Persia and Tartary; and that the other persons introduced were kings or heroes of those countries.
Sir William Jones to J. Macpherson, Esq.
May 26, 1785. The regulation which concerning the Madrissa * is so falutary, that few things would grieve me more than to see it frustrated. Your predecessor has often mentioned to me, the high opinion which he had formed of the rector, but (I know not for wliat reason) he is very unpopular. Perhaps it is only faction, too common in most col
* The passages in these letters relating to the Madrissa or college, as an establishment of national importance, merits a more particular explanation. Mr. Hastings, whilst he held the office of governor-general, with a view to promote the knowledge of Mohammedan law, as essential to the due administration of justice to the natives of India, had established a college at Calcutta, in which native students were admitted and taught at the public expence. This institution was dictated by a wise policy; it was calculated to conciliate the affections of the Mussulmans, and to ensure a succession of men properly qualified by education to expound the law of the Koran, and to fill the important offices of magistrates in the courts of justice. The president of this college had been selected with every attention to his character and ability; but some representations having been made to his disadvantage, the succeeding governor-general, J. Macpherson, Esq. consulted Sir William Jones, on the regulations proper to be established for promoting the laudable obe jects of the institution, and controlling its conduct,