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established, where the sense of the words is at all ambiguous.
1. The intention of the writer must be sought, and prevail over the literal sense of terms; but penal laws must be strictly expounded against offenders, and liberally against the offence.
2. All clauses, preceding or subsequent, must be taken together to explain any one doubtful clause,
3. When a case is expressed to remove any doubt, whether it was included or not, the extent of the clause, with regard to cases not so expressed, is by no means restrained.
4. The conclusion of a phrase is not confined to the words immediately preceding, but usually extended to the whole antecedent phrase.
These are copious maxims, and, with half a dozen more, are the stars by which we steer in the construction of all public and private writings.
Sir William fones to y. Macpherson, Efq.
Court House, Julya We have just convicted a low Hindu of a foul conspiracy, which would have ended in perjury, and (as his own law-giver says) in every cause of damnation. If richer men were of the plot, I hope our court will escape the reproach of the satirist, that “ laws “ resemble cobwebs, which catch flies and let 6 the wasps break through.”
Sir William fones to 7. Macpherson, Esq.
August 14, 1785. I give you my hearty thanks, my dear Sir, for the history of the Roman Republic, which I read with particular pleafure.
Looking over my shelves the other day, I laid my hand on the annexed little book afcribed to Sir Walter Raleigh ; it is, like most posthumous works, incorrect, but contains, with some rubbish, a number of wise aphorisms and pertinent examples ; it is rather the common-place book of some statesman,
than a well digested treatise, but it has amused me on a second reading, and I hope it will amuse a few of your leisure moments.
The society of Sir William Jones was too attractive, to allow him to employ his leisure hours in those studies, which he so eagerly desired to cultivate, and although no man was more happy in the conversation of his friends, he soon found that the unrestrained enjoyment of this gratification was incompatible with his attention to literary pursuits. He determined therefore to seek some retire. ment, at no great distance from Calcutta, where he might have the benefit of air and exercise, and prosecute his studies without interruption, during the vacations of the fupreme court.
For this purpose, he made choice of a residence at Crishnagur, which had a particular attraction for him, from its vicinity to a Hindu college, and from this spot he writes to his friends.
Sir William Jones to Dr. Patrick Rusel.
Sept. 8, 1785. Your two kind letters found me overwhelmed with the business of a severe sessions and term, which lasted two months, and fatigued me so much, that I was forced to haften from Calcutta as fast as winds and oars could carry me. I am now at the ancient university of Nadeya, where I hope to learn the rudiments of that venerable and interesting language which was once vernacular in all India, and in both the peninsulas with their islands. Your pursuits must be delightful, and I shall be impatient to see the fruit of your learned labours. . Our society goes on slowly; and hot-bed fruits are not so good to my taste as those which ripen naturally.
Dr. Kænig's loss will be severely felt ; he was a valuable man, with as much simplicity as 'nature herself, whose works he studied. Do you know when his books are to be difposed of? I should wish to purchase his Linnæus.
Sir William Jones to Charles Chapman, Esq.
Sept. 28, 1785. I am proceeding slowly, but surely, in this retired place, in the study of Sanserit; for I can no longer bear to be at the mercy
of our pundits, who deal out Hindu law as they please, and make it at reasonable rates, when they cannot find it ready made. I annex the form adopted by us for the oaths of Mussulmans; you will in your discretion adopt or reject it, and if you can collect from Mahesa pundit, who seemed a worthy honest man, how Hindu witnesses ought to be examined, and whether the Bramins can give absolution (I think they call it pryarchitt) for perjury, and in what case, you will greatly oblige me, and contribute to the advancement of justice.
The conclusion of this letter expresses a sentiment, which, as a judge in Bengal, and friend of human nature, he always considered an object of the first importance.
The period of his residence at his country