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cottage, was necessarily limited by the duty of attending the supreme court : on his return to Calcutta, in October, he writes to John Macpherson, Esq. “ Lady Jones, and myself,
received much benefit from the dry soil and
pure air of Crishnagur; how long my health “ will continue in this town, with constant “ attendance in court every morning, and the “ irksome business of justice of peace in the
afternoon, I cannot foresee. If temperance “ and composure of mind will avail, I shall “ be well; but I would rather be a valetudi“ narian, all my life, than leave unexplored “ the Sanscrit mine which I have just opened.
"I have brought with me the father of “ the university of Nadya, who, though not
a Brahmin, has taught grammar and ethics “ to the most learned Brahmins, and has no
priestly pride, with which his pupils in general abound.”
In the year 1785, a periodical work was undertaken at Calcutta, under the title of the Asiatick Miscellany, which has been ignorantly ascribed to the Asiatick Society, with whose
researches it had no connection.
The title of
the work indicates the nature of its contents,
which consisted chiefly of extracts from books published in Europe, relating to India, of translations from Oriental Authors, and of poems and essays. The editor was occasionally assisted by the literary talents of gentlemen in India, and we find in the two first volumes, which were published in the years 1785 and 86, the following compositions of Sir William Jones, who never neglected any opportunity of contributing to the advancement of Oriental literature: the tale of the Enchanted Fruit, which has already been mentioned, fix hymns * addressed to as many Hindu deities, a literal translation of twenty
* In his hymn to Surya, or the Sun, Sir William Jones alludes to himself in the following beautiful lines :
And, if they ask what mortal pours the strain?
tales and fables of Nizami, expressly intended to assist the students of the Persian language, besides other smaller pieces, from which I quote with pleasure, the following beautiful tetraftick, which is a literal translation from the Persian :
On parent knees, a naked, new-born child,
The hymns, which are original compositions, are descriptive of the Hindu deities, to whom they were addressed, and a short introductory explanation accompanies each. The mythological allusions and Sanscrit names, with which they abound, are not sufficiently familiar to the English reader, to enable him to derive that pleasure from them, which those who are acquainted with the manners and mythology of the Hindus feel in the perusal of these hymns; but whilft they mark the taste and genius of the author, they supply a fund of information, equally novel and curious. We contemplate
with delight and surprise the admirer of the Grecian bards, and the pupil of the Grecian sages, led by his enthusiasm from the banks of the Ilyssus to the streams of the Ganges, celebrating, in strains not unworthy of Pindar, the fabulous divinities of India, and exploring the sources of the Egyptian and Persian theology, and of the tenets of the Ionic and Italic schools of philosophy. These compositions were the elegant amusements of hours of leisure and relaxation, which he never suffered to interfere with his public duties. They prove the versatility of those intellectual powers, which could immediately turn from the investigation of legal causes or the solution of abstruse mathematical problems, to explain and adorn the mythological fictions of the Hindus, in odes which the Bramins would have approved and admired. The variety of measures adopted in the composition of these hymns is remarkable; each of the nine* has a different form of versification, and if they are not all equally harmonious, they are all
* He wrote three more hymns afterwards.
regular. The opening and conclusion of the Hymn to Narayon are very sublime.
On the second of February 1786, Sir William Jones delivered to the society his third annual discourse, in which he proposed to fill up the outlines delineated in his two former addresses, and promised, if the state of his health should permit him to continue long enough in India, to prepare
for the annual meetings of the society, a series of short differtations unconnected in their titles, but all leading to one common point of no small importance, in the pursuit of interesting truths. He exhibits, in this discourse, a proof of the successful application of his time to the study of Sanscrit, and speaks with increased confidence of the result of his new attainments. The conclusion expresses his regret, at the departure for Europe of the very ingenious member who first opened the mine of Sanscrit literature, an honourable tribute to the merit of Mr. Charles Wilkins.
. Sir William had long proposed making an excursion to Chatigan, the eastern limits of