« PreviousContinue »
hands, it may not perhaps be amiss to add some others. But, as Mr. Swinton has suggested, that he has some doubts about the fate of the writings of the old Persians, I think you would do well to consult him, before you publish your English translation.
I am glad you intend to oblige the world with an English translation of your letter; and if, among the anecdotes which Mr. Swinton sent you, you will be so good as to insert that, wherein he says, that he was present all the time that Perron was with me, but does not remember that I ever told him that I understood the ancient Persian language, I shall be much obliged to you. I am
undertaking was so great, that he engaged himself to the French East-India Company as a private soldier, as affording the speediest means of accomplishing the voyage, but some friends procured his discharge, and a small pension for him from the Crown of France. He arrived at Pondicherry, in 1755, and, after travelling over various parts of India, by the assistance of the Government of Bombay, was enabled to return to Europe in an English vessel, and landed at Portsmouth, in November 1761. He brought with him many Oriental manuscripts, which he afterwards carried to France, and in 1771 published three quarto volumes, containing an account of his travels, and the information which he had obtained in the course of them, under the general title of 2ind-Avesta, Ouvrage de Zoroaster. - * In a discourse addressed to the Asiatic Society at Calcutta, in 1789, Sir William Jones speaks of him, as “having had the merit of undertaking a voyage to India in his earliest “ youth, with no other view than to recover the writings of Zeratus (Zorðaster) and who “would have acquired a brilliant reputation in France, if he had not sullied it by his “immoderate vanity and virulence of temper, which alienated the good-will even of his “ own countrymen.” In the same discourse, he affirms, that M. Anquetil most certainly had no knowledge of Sanscrit. In 1798, M. Anquetil published a work, entitled, L’Inde en rapport avec l'Europe, which is more remarkable for the virulence of its invectives against the English, and for
its numerous misrepresentations, than for the information which it contains, or the sound
ness of the reflections which it conveys. In the summary of its contents, stated in the
title-page, he professes to give a detailed, accurate, and terrific picture of the English Machiavelism in India, and he addresses his work in a ranting bombast dedication to the manes of Dupleix and Labourdonnais. It does not appear that the temper of Mr. A.
has been meliorated, although he had then nearly attained his 70th year. Stire
sure I never pretended, nor could pretend, to any further knowledg of it, than that of the alphabet, as given by Dr. Hyde. , - - I am, &c. Thoms. As HUNT.
The small volume of poems”, consisting chiefly of translations from the Asiatic languages, with two prose dissertations annexed, was published in 1772. We may be allowed to smile at the solicitude, which Mr. Jones expresses in his correspondence on the subject of this publication, to avoid the imputation of devoting that time to the Muses, which belonged to his professional studies, whilst we participate with pleasure the effects of his devotion to the objects of his admiration; but his anxiety for his literary reputation, in deferring the publication of his poems until they had received all the improvements which care and attention, assisted by the criticisms of his friends, could bestow, is highly praise-worthy.
On the 30th of April, 1772, Mr. Jones was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and admitted on May the 14th of the same year. He does not appear to have communicated any paper for the Philosophical Transactions.
From the first entrance of Mr. Jones into the University, until Michaelmas 1768, when he took the degree of A. B., he had kept the terms regularly ; from that period to 1773, only occasionally. In the Easter term of that year, during the Encaenia, he took his master's degree. It was on this occasion, that he composed an oration with an intention, which he did not execute, of speaking it in the Theatre. The speech was published ten years after, and exhibits a striking memorial of independent principles, and wellcultivated abilities:—to vindicate learning from the malevolent as
* Works, vol. iv. p. 399.
persion of being destructive of manly spirit, unfavourable to freedom, and introductive to slavish obsequiousness; to support the honour and independence of learned men, to display the transcendant advantages of the University of Oxford, were the topics, which he had proposed to discuss ; but on which the limits prescribed to his oration, forbad him to expatiate. - .
The animation of his language shews, that these topics were ever near his heart: an ardent love of liberty, an enthusiastic veneration for the University, a warm and discriminate eulogium on learned men, who devoted their talents and labours to the cause of religion, science, and freedom, characterise his discourse; of which, part has been lately quoted with applause by Dr. Parr”.
The kindness of a contemporary student has communicated an anecdote in proof of his particular aversion to the logic of the schools, that, in an oration which he pronounced in UniversityHall, he declaimed violently against Burgersdiscius, Cracanthorpius, and the whole body of logicians in the College of Queen Philippa, his opposite neighbour. Of his uncommon industry, many proofs might be enumerated, and among others the copying of several
Arabic manuscripts, of which one was the entertaining romance
of Bedreddin Hassan, or, Aladdin's Lamp, from a most elegant specimen of Arabian calligraphy.
Nor was he less remarked for an affectionate attention to his mother and sister, who resided at Oxford; such portion of his time as he could spare from his studies was given to their society, and during his occasional absence from the University, he was regular
in his correspondence with his mother.
* Notes to Spital Sermon, p. 136.
We may conceive and participate the delight of a fond parent, contemplosing the increasing reputation of her son ; she now found her maternal care and anxiety repaid in a degree equal to her most sanguine expectations, and her affection rewarded by a full measure of filial duty and gratitude. The progress of the virtues is not always in proportion to literary improvement; and learning, which ought to meliorate the affections, and strengthen the principles of duty, has been known to distort the mind by pride, and engender arrogance. In Mr. Jones, we have the pleasure to see every moral principle promoted and invigorated by his literary attainments.
In the commencement of 1774, he published his Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry. This work was received with admiration and applause by the Oriental scholars of Europe in general, as well as by the learned of his own country. It was perhaps the first publication on Eastern literature, which had an equal claim to elegance and erudition. This work was begun by Mr. Jones in 1766, and finished in 1769, when he was in his twenty-third year: but with the same solicitude which he had exhibited on other occasions, to lay his compositions before the public in the greatest possible perfection, he had repeatedly submitted the manuscript to the examination and critical remarks of his learned friends. Their approbation of it was liberal and general: but the opinion of Dr. Parr on any subject of literature is decisive, and I select from a letter, which he wrote to Mr. Jones in 1769, some passages, in which he expresses his admiration of the work.
“I have read your book De Poési Asiatică with all the attention “ that is due to a work so studiously designed, and so happily “executed. The observations are just and curious, and equally “free from indiscriminate approbation, licentious censure, and ex
“ cessive refinement. - “Through
“Through the hurry of the first composition, the same expres“sion frequently occurs, and sentences begin in the same manner, “ and now and then two words are improperly combined.
“These inaccuracies are very rare, and very trifling. On the “whole, there is a purity, an ease, an elegance in the style, which “shew an accurate and most perfect knowledge of the Latin “tongue. Your Latin translations in verse gave me great satis“faction. I am uncommonly charmed with the idyllium, called “Chrysis. The flow of the verses, the poetic style of the words, “and the elegant turn of the whole poem, are admirable.
“On the whole, I have received infinite entertainment from this
“curious and learned performance, and I look forward with
“pleasure, to the great honour such a publication will do our “ country.”
It will readily be supposed, that in the interval between the date of the letter and the publication of the Commentaries, Mr. Jones had not neglected to make the corrections suggested by the criticisms of his learned correspondent; and that such further emendations were adopted, as the growing maturity of his own judgment pointed out.
In the preface to the Commentaries, Mr. Jones mentions and laments the death of Dr. Sumner, in terms which strongly mark his affection for the memory of his respected friend and instructor, who died in September 1771:—
“There never was a man more worthy of being remembered, “for his talents, integrity, admirable disposition, amiable man
“ners, and exquisite learning; in the art of instructing, I never Q “ knew