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TO LADY JONES.
I HAVE the honour to present to your Ladyship the Memoirs of the Life of Sir WILLIAM Jones; and it will afford me the sincerest pleasure to know that the expectations which induced you to request me to undertake this work have not been disappointed by the perusal of it.
I have the honour to be,
IN presenting the public with an account of the life of Sir WILLIAM Jones, I feel a particular anxiety to guard against the charge of presumption, for an undertaking, which may be thought to require a more than ordinary share of learning and abilities. I hope, there. fore, to have credit for a declaration, that nothing but the earnest solicitation of Lady Jones, who knew my affection for her husband when living, and my unabated regard for his memory, and who conceived that these qualifications might supply the deficiency of more essential talents, could have prevailed upon me to enter upon a literary career, so foreign to the habits of a life of which more than fifty years are now elapsed. It may
proper to notice the materials which I have used in this compilation, and to explain the plan which I have adopted in the arrangement of them. The first is a single sheet, written by Sir William Jones, containing short notices of his situation and occupations, during every year of his life. It is, indeed, extended beyond the date of his existence, to the 50th year; opposite to which are the words our ©¢ã, if God please, are inserted. It appears to have been hastily written, a few months only before his death; and although the dates are sometimes inaccurate, and the notices too brief to supply more than a reference, it suggested inquiries, which have sometimes terminated satisfactorily, though more frequently in disappointment. This paper, however, dictated the plan of the work; and I second year,
have endeavoured, as far as my materials permitted, to trace the life of Sir William Jones, year by year.
For the first twenty-two years of it, my authorities are ample and satisfactory: they consist principallý of memoranda, written by Sir William himself: and, in describing the occurrences of this period, I have frequently availed myself of his own words. I wish, indeed, that I could have used them exclusively; but the paper is not altogether in a form to admit of publication.
The account of the last twelve years of his life, in India, is chiefly supplied from my own recollection, assisted by information collected from his writings and correspondence. Of the events of his life, between 1778, his twenty
year, and the date of his embarkation for India, in 1783, my information is less complete, although I have spared no diligence in endeavouring to collect all that could be obtained. I was in hopes that the recollection of his contemporaries at Oxford, where he occasionally resided, until he left England, might have supplied some material anecdotes, and that further information might have been procured from his companions in Westminster Hall, or on the circuit; but my researches have had little success, and I am chiefly indebted to his correspondence for the information which I have been able to communicate.
In the arrangement of these materials, it was my wish, as far as possible, to make Sir William Jones describe himself; and, with this view, I have introduced his letters into the body of the Memoirs. They develop his occupations, hopes, pursuits, and feelings; and although the narrative, from the introduction of them, may lose something, in point of connection, this inconvenience, I flatter myself, will be more than compensated by the
letters themselves. By this mode they will excite an interest, which they might have failed to produce, if the substance or subjects of them only had been interwoven into the narrative, with a reference to the letters themselves in the Appendix.
This arrangement has, however, imposed upon me the necessity of translating many of the letters of Sir William Jones, and his learned correspondents, from the Latin or French; and I have endeavoured to give the sense of them, in a plain and familiar style. But I must warn the reader, that he is to expect nothing more in these translations; and that those who are qualified to peruse the original letters of Sir William Jones will find in them an elegance which I do not pretend to transfuse into my version of them. Some few sentences of the original letters have been purposely omitted in the translation, and many passages of the originals themselves have been suppressed.
The Latin letters of Sir William Jones are printed in the Appendix; and it is further proper to observe, that, in consequence of interlineations, corrections, erasures, and mutilation from time, I could not always ascertain the exact words which he ultimately adopted. In such cases I have been compelled to exercise my own judgment; and I desire the reader to 'notice this remark, lest any inaccuracy of mine should be imputed to a man, who was equally qualified to guide the taste of the elegant, and correct the errors of the learned.
To elucidate the life, occupations, and opinions, of Sir William Jones, was the principal object which I had in view, in the selection of the letters now presented to the public; some have been inserted, as calculated, in my opinion, to afford entertainment to the reader. I am very sensible that many of these letters relate to topics not generally interesting. Engaged in