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am interrupted, and must leave you with reluctance till the morning. * #: o * o An apology, I trust, will not be thought necessary for introducing that passage in Diderot's letter, which Mr. Jones reprobates in terms of asperity and indignation suitable to the rectitude of his own mind. His remarks upon it will serve to explain, if it be at all necessary, certain expressions in his letters, which may be thought to border upon a levity, that never entered into the composition of his character. His mind was never tainted with vice, nor was the morality of his conduct ever impeached. He valued the pleasures of society, and enjoyed them as long as they were innocent, whilst he detested the principles and practice of the debauchee and sensualist, and, like his favourite Hafez, could amuse his leisure hours with poetical compositions in praise of love or beauty, without sacrificing his health, his time, or his virtue. His censure of Diderot is equally a proof of his own abhorrence of vice, and of his anxiety to impress it strongly on the mind of his friend and late pupil". In
* Of Diderot, thus casually introduced to the notice of the reader, it may not be irrelevant to give a short account. His works I have never read, nor, from the character of the man, have any wish to peruse them. Diderot (I take my information from the Abbé Barruel) was one of the gang of conspirators against the Christian Religion. He not only professed Atheism, but made a boast of it, and inculcated it in his writings. He was invited to Russia, by the Empress Catharine, who at first admired his genius, but soon found sufficient reason in his conduct and principles to send him back to France.
There were moments in which this professed friend and admirer of Voltaire, notwithstanding his avowed impiety, seems to have been compelled by the force of truth to pay homage to the New Testament. An acquaintance found him one day explaining a chapter of it to his daughter, with all the apparent seriousness and energy of a believer. On expressing his surprise, Diderot replied, “I understand your meaning; but after all,
“where is it possible to find better lessons for her instruction?” The devils believe, and tremble.
In 1778, Mr. Jones published a translation of the speeches of Isaeus, in causes concerning the law of succession to property at Athens, with a prefatory discourse, notes critical and historical, and
a commentary. w
The works of Isaeus had long been neglected; the subject of them was dry, and his technical language, as Mr. Jones observes, was unintelligible to the herd of grammarians and philologers, by whom the old monuments of Grecian learning were saved from destruction. To rescue them from obscurity, and to present them to the student of our English laws in his native language, was a task which required the united qualifications of classical erudition and legal knowledge, and which he discharged with equal pleasure and SUICCCSS. r
“There is no branch of learning, from which a student of the law “may receive a more rational pleasure, or which seems more likely “to prevent his being disgusted with the dry elements of a very “complicated science, than the history of the rules and ordinances “ by which nations, eminent for wisdom, and illustrious in arts, “have regulated their civil polity: nor is this the only fruit that “he may expect to reap from a general knowledge of foreign laws, “both ancient and modern ; for whilst he indulges the liberal “curiosity of a scholar in examining the customs and institu“tions of men, whose works have yielded him the highest delight, “ and whose actions have raised his admiration, he will feel the “satisfaction of a patriot, in observing the preference due in most “ instances to the laws of his own country above those of all other “states; or, if his just prospects in life give him hopes of becoming “a legislator, he may collect many useful hints, for the improve“ment even of that fabric, which his ancestors have erected with “infinite exertions of virtue and genius, but which, like all human “systems, will ever advance nearer to perfection, and ever fall “short of it.”
At the close of a life of profligacy and impiety, consistent with the sentiments expressed in his letter to Wilkes, Diderot shewed some signs of contrition, and even went so far as to declare an intention of publicly recanting his errors. But the barbarity of his philosophic friends interfered to prevent it, and they resolved as far as they could, that he should die without repentance. Under the pretence that a change of air would promote his restoration to health, they secretly removed him into the country, and never left him
until he expired, in July 1784. - “satisfaction
I quote the preceding observations from his prefatory discourse, which is written with uncommon elegance, and particularly interesting, not only from the information which it contains respecting the author whose works he illustrated, but for its critical remarks on the comparative merits of the Grecian orators, and for his dissertation on the Attic laws of succession, and the forms of pleading in the Athenian courts. It was no small credit to Mr. Jones to have successfully accomplished what Sir Mathew Hale, “to whose “learning and diligence the present age is no less indebted, than “his contemporaries were to his wisdom and virtue,” had unsuccessfully attempted.
The works of Isaeus are dedicated to Earl Bathurst; and Mr. Jones takes occasion in the epistle dedicatory to inform the public, that, although he had received many signal marks of friendship from a number of illustrious persons, Lord Bathurst had been his greatest, his only benefactor; that, without any solicitation, or even request on his part, his Lordship gave him a substantial and permament token of regard, rendered still more valuable by the obliging manner of giving it, and literally the sole fruit which he had gathered from an incessant course of very painful labour. He adds his further acknowledgements for the more extended intentions of his
Lordship, although he had not then derived any benefit from them.
This was the only publication of Mr. Jones, in 1778; which, however it might tend to increase his reputation, did not perhaps much advance his professional success. He had however every reason to be satisfied with the proportion of business that fell to his share, during the circuits which he regularly attended.
Mr. Jones had transmitted a copy of his translation to Edmund Burke; and the following letter contains his acknowledgement of the favour. The opinion of a great orator on any subject connected with that of his constant meditations, will not be read without interest.
MY DEAR SIR, March 12, 1779.
I give you many thanks for your most obliging and valuable present, and feel myself extremely honoured by this mark of your friendship. My first leisure will be employed in an attentive perusal of an author, who had merit enough to fill up a part of yours, and whom you have made accessible to me with an ease and advantage, which one so many years disused to Greek literature as I have been, could not otherwise have. Isaeus is an author of whom I know nothing but by fame; I am sure that any idea I had from thence conceived of him, will not be at all lessened by seeing him in your translation. I do not know how it has happened, that orators have hitherto fared worse in the hands of the translators, than even the poets; I never could bear to read a translation of Cicero. Demosthenes suffers I think somewhat less;–but he suffers greatly ; so much, that I must say, that no English reader could well conceive from whence he had acquired the reputation of the first of orators. I am satisfied that there is now an eminent exception to this rule, and I sincerely congratulate the public on that acquisition. I am, with the greatest truth and regard, my dear Sir,
Your most faithful and obliged humble servant,
Of the incidents in the life of Mr. Jones during the years 1778 and 1779, I have no particular information ; we may suppose his time and attention to have been principally engrossed by his professional duties and studies, and the political circumstances of the times. His own letters, always interesting, and often instructive, with those of his correspondents, contain all that I know of him during this period; the latter afford additional evidence of the esteem in which his learning, abilities, and principles were held by men of high reputation in the rank of literature.
Mr. SWINNEY to Mr. JONES.
SIR ; Pera of Constantinople, January 1, 1778. So high an opinion do I entertain of your humanity and politeness, as to persuade myself you will readily pardon the liberty I have taken, of sending you a Persian and Grecian manuscript. If, on perusal of one or the other book, you shall meet with a single passage that may contribute either to your instruction or amusement, my purpose will be fully answered.
Among the real curiosities I have seen at Constantinople, is a public museum, erected at the sole expence of a most learned Grand Visir, whose name and title was Rajib Pacha. This collection contains about two thousand Arabian, Persian, and Turkish manuscripts, which, the learned say, contain vast stores of erudition. It is not improbable but I may be able, on some favourable occasion, to procure you a copy of the catalogue; and then, should you be disposed to have any of the manuscripts copied, I intreat you will confer the honour upon me, of executing the commission. People assure me, but I dare not say whether with good authority or no, that the entire Decades of Livy, and the complete History of Curtius, are contained in that very precious repository: if so, who