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through whose hands my trifles shall pass before they see the light. I have dined with him at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, where he paid me a compliment before the whole company, which I cannot write without blushing. He said, my Greek poems, which he had seen in ma- . nuscript, were worthy of ancient Greece. I dare say this learned and ingenious man will suffer me to send him a copy of the poems at Winchester; and that he will make his remarks very sincerely. When I have collected the criticisms of these gentlemen, I will compare them, and add my corrections at the end, under the title of emendations, as Pope has inserted his alterations in the text of his poems, and set down the varia. tions or first readings in the margin. I think it will be better (as we inust not lose the season for publication) to send the copies to my friends, as soon as the trifle on Chess is printed, and to shew them the prose afterwards.
My Turkish History will go to the press on Monday. Lord Radnor has given me leave, in the most flattering terms, to inscribe it to him.
I have a notion I shall be a great talker, when I am at the bar; for I cannot take up my pen without filling three sides of paper, though I have nothing to say when I sit down.
I am, &c.
* Mr. Jones to Robert Orme, Esq.
April, 1772. It is impossible for me to describe the delight and admiration I have felt, from the perusal of your History of the War in India. The plans, circumstances, and events of it, are so clearly described by you, that I felt
Appendix, No. 22.
an interest in them, rather as an actor, than a reader. I was particularly pleased with your delineation of the lives and characters of those who had distinguished themselves by their actions or wisdom; nor was I less delighted with the elegance of your topographical de. scriptions; that of the Ganges particularly pleased me: it is absolutely a picture. I have remarked that the more polished historians, of all ages, as well as the poets, have been fond of displaying their talents in describing rivers. Thus Thucydides describes the Achelous, and Xenophon the Teliboas, and both admirably, though in a different manner: the latter with his usual brevity and elegance, the former with a degree of roughness and magnificence not uncommon to him. With respect to your style, if elegance consist in the choice and collocation of words, you have a most indubitable title to it; for you have on all occasions selected the most appropriate expressions, and have given to them the most beautiful arrangement; and this is almost the greatest praise which a composition can claim.
The publication of the second part of your history, which has been so long and earnestly looked for, will be highly acceptable to those whose opinions you respect; and I need not say that it will add to your reputation. Indeed, it is not just, that the Coromandel coast only should receive the ornament of your pen, to the neglect of Bengal, which an Indian monarch pronounced the delight of the world.
If the reader should complain that the correspondence presented to him is not always important or interesting, I can only plead, in excuse, my inability to make any selection that would obviate this remark, without being liable to the weightier objection of exhibiting an imperfect picture of the character of Mr.
Jones. To me it is pleasing to trace him in his closet, unfold his meditations, develop his projects, and follow him in his familiar intercourse with his friends: and whilst my admiration is excited by the ardour of his mind, embracing in idea excellence unattainable even by him, and conceiving works impracticable from their extent, I participate with equal pleasure in his relaxations and amusements.
The plan of the Epic poem, which he mentions in his letters to his Polish friend, was sketched during his residence at Spa, in July, 1770. The original manuscript has been preserved; and I am enabled to communicate it to the public.* The subject of the poem was the supposed discovery of our island by Tyrian adventurers; and he proposed to exhibit, under the character of the prince of Tyre, that of a perfect king of this country; a character which he pronounces the most glorious and beneficial of any that the warmest imagination can form. It represents (to quote his own words) the dangers to which a king of England is necessarily exposed, the vices which he must avoid, and the virtues, and great qualities, with which he must be adorned. On the whole, “ Britain Discovered” is intended as a poetical panegyric on our excellent constitution, and as a pledge of the author's attachment to it; as a national Epic poem, like those of Homer, Virgil, Tasso, and Camoens, designed to celebrate the honours of his country, to display, in a striking light, the most important principles of politics and morality, and to inculcate these grand maxims, that nothing can shake our state, while the true liberty of the subject remains united with the dignity of the sovereign, and that, in all states, virtue is the only sure basis of private and public happiness.
He reserved the completion of the poem to a period of leisure and independence which never arrived; and, although, after an interval of some years, he resumed the idea of composing an Epic poem on the same subject, but with considerable alterations, he never extended the execution of it beyond a few lines.
Whether the Turkish history, which Mr. Jones mentions as ready for the press, was ever finished, I am not informed; part of the original manuscript still remains; the introduction * to it was printed, but not published.
The anticipation of future prospects, suggested by the fervour of youthful imagination, is too common to all, but particularly to men of genius, to excite much surprise: and of them it has been generally and justly remarked, that what has been performed by them bears little proportion to what was projected. In their progress through life impediments occur to the execution of their plans, which the mind at first eagerly overlooks; whilst time, imperceptibly advancing, deprives them of the power, and even of the inclination, to complete what has been designed with so much ardour. They find, what experience daily proves, that the duties of life can only be properly performed, 'when they are the primary objects of our regard and attention.
The little discourse, to which Mr. Jones humourously alludes in his letter to Reviczki, was a letter in French, addressed to Monsieur Anquetil du Perron, and printed in 1771. The Frenchman had published, in three quarto volumes, an account of his travels in India, the life of Zoroaster, and some supposed works of that philosopher. To this publication he prefixed a discourse, in which he treated the university of Oxford, and some of its learned members, and friends of Mr. Jones, with ridicule and disrespect. From the perusal of his works, Mr. Jones was little disposed to agree with Monsieur du Perron, in the boasted importance of his communications; he was disgusted with his vanity and petulance, and particularly offended by his illiberal attack upon the university which he respected, and upon the persons whom he esteemed and admired. The letter which he addressed to M. du Perron was anonymous; it was written with great force, and expresses his indignation and contempt with a degree of asperity which the judgment of maturer years would have disapproved. Professor Biorn Sthal, a Swedish Orientalist, says of it, that he had known many
Frenchmen so far mistaken in the writer, as to ascribe it to some bel esprit of Paris. Such, in their opinion, was the brilliancy and correctness of its style. Dr. Hunt, the Laudian professor of Arabic, at Oxford, who had been contemptuously mentioned by du Perron, addressed the two following letters to Mr. Jones on this occasion:
Ch. Church, Oct. 25, 1771. I have now found the translation of all the remains of Zoroaster, mentioned in your last, and think, upon an attentive perusal of it, that the account which Dr. Fraser has given of it is true.
I never told Perron that I understood the ancient Persic language; and I am authorized by Mr. Swinton, who was present all the time Perron was with me, to say, that he never heard me tell him so.
I might, perhaps, say, that I knew the old Persic character, as given by Dr. Hyde; but to a further knowledge of the language I never pretended, nor could I tell him that I did. But for a proof of the veracity of this fellow, I beg leave to refer you to page 461 of his preliminary discourse,