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Mr. JONES to Lady SPENCER.
Chilbolton, Oct. 21, 1782. Though I wrote so lately to your Ladyship, and cannot hope by any thing I can now say to make amends for the dulness of my last letter; yet, as some of the ladies here are this moment writing to St. James's Place, I cannot prevail on myself to decline joining so'agreeable a party, especially as the very favourable accounts which were last night received of Lord Spencer's health have given me spirits, and made me eager to offer my sincere congratulations. Yes; I rejoice with the truest sincerity, that his Lordship’s health is so likely to be re-established, for I cannot name a man of rank in the nation, in whose health the public and all mankind, as well as his family and friends, are more truly interested. I have passed my time at Chilbolton so agreeably, that ten days have appeared like one; and it gives me concern that the near approach of the term will oblige me to leave so charming and improving a society at the end of this week: after which I shall hope to find my friends at Midgham in perfect health; and then farewell, a long farewell to all my rational and interesting pleasures, which must be succeeded by the drudgery of drawing bills in equity, the toil of answering cases, the squabbles of the bar, and the more vexatious dissentions and conflicts of the political world, which I vainly deprecated, and now as vainly deplore. How happy would it be, if statesmen had more music in their souls, and could bring themselves to consider, that what harmony is in a concert, such is union in a state; but in the great orchestra of politics, I find so many musicians out of humour, and instruments out of tune, that I am more tormented by such dissonance than the man in Hogarth’s print, and am more desirous than ever of being transported to the distance of five thousand leagues from all this fatal discord. Without a metaphor, I lament
with anguish the bitterness and animosity with which some of my
Fra' magnanimi pochi; à chi 'l ben piace,
Io vo gridando pace, pace, pace.
From the Duchess of DEVONSHIRE to Mr. JONES.
Plimton, Oct. 28, 1782. I am very happy that the fear of losing a privilege, which you are so good as to say is precious to you, has induced you to write to me, for I assure you, that your letters give me very great pleasure, and that they, as well as the few times in which we ineet, make me regret very much, that the turn of your public engagements take you so much from societies where you are wished for.
yoli, that the political world is strangely torn. If you had been in parliament at this crisis, you would have felt yourself in an uncomfortable situation, I confess; but I cannot think, that with the good Whig principles you are blessed with, private friendships or connections would have prevailed on you to remain silent or inactive.
Chi vuol Catone amico,
This I think would have been the test of your political friendship.
I am rejoiced that there is a chance of your returning to poetry. I had a very valuable present made me by Dr. Blagden, physician to the camp, of your ode in imitation of Callistratus. I wish I understood Greek, that I might read something Mr. Paradise has written at the top of it. I will attempt to copy it; and after the various characters I have, in days of yore, seen you decipher, I will not despair of your making out Greek, though written by me.
Α1 Χαρίτες, τέμενος τι λαβείν όπερ έκι σεσείη
Ζητεσαι, ψυχήν εύρον Ιωνιονο*. I shall expect to see the poem something sooner than the rest of your friends; and I assure you, the having so seldom the pleasure of meeting you, does not diminish the sincerity, with which I shall ever retain that title. If you are still at Chilbolton, pray give my love to the family there, and tell Miss Shipley to write to me.
My seal is a talisman, which if you can send me the explanation of, I shall be much obliged to you.
In the beginning of 1783, Mr. Jones published his translation of the seven Arabian poems, which he had finished in 1781. It was his intention to have prefixed to this work, a discourse on the antiquity of the Arabian language and characters, on the manners of the Arabs in the age immediately preceding that of Mohammed, and other interesting information respecting the poems, and the lives of the authors, with a critical history of their works; but he could not command sufficient leisure for the execution of it. Some of the subjects intended for this dissertation, appeared in a discourse
* The Graccs, seeking a shrine that would never decay, found the soul of Jones.
on the Arabs, which he composed some years afterwards, and from the manner in which it was written, it is impossible not to regret the irrecoverable loss of the larger discussion which he originally proposed. The poems present us with a curious specimen of the manners of the natives of Arabia, and on this account, must be particularly interesting to those, who consider the study of human nature in all its varieties, as an instructive subject of contemplation. “ They exhibit (to use the words of Mr. Jones) an exact “ picture of the virtues and vices of the Arabs in the age of the
seven poets, their wisdom and their folly, and shew what may “ be constantly expected from men of open hearts, and boiling
passions, with no law to control, and little religion to restrain 66 them.”
The period was now arrived, when Mr. Jones had the happiness to gain the accomplishment of his most anxious wishes. In March 1783, during the administration of Lord Shelburne, he was appointed a judge of the supreme court of judicature at Fortwilliam at Bengal, on which occasion the honour of knighthood was conferred upon him; and, in the April following, he married Anna Maria Shipley, the eldest daughter of the Bishop of St. Asaph. I have remarked the early impression made upon the affections of Sir William Jones by this lady, and the honourable determination which he formed upon that occasion, and if I should have succeeded in imparting to my readers any portion of that interest, which I feel in his personal concerns, they will see him with pleasure receiving the rewards of principle and affection.
The Bishop of St. Asaph, of whose respectable character and high literary reputation it is unnecessary to remind the public, possessed too enlightened an understanding not to appreciate the early distinguished talents and virtues of Sir William Jones, and
their friendship was cemented by an union of political principles, and the zealous adıniration each felt for the constitution of their country. The Bishop, in the choice of a son-in-law, had
every reason to indulge the pleasing hope that he had consulted, as far as human foresight can extend, the happiness of his beloved daughter; nor were his expectations disappointed.
For his appointment to India, Mr. Jones was indebted to the friendship of Lord Ashburton : in October 1782 I find a letter from his Lordship to Mr. Jones, with the following words: “ You “ will give me credit for not being indifferent about the important “ stake still left in India, or your particular interest in it, in which I “ consider that of the public so materially involved.” The intelligence of his success was communicated to Mr. Jones, in the following letter of congratulation, to which I subjoin one from the celebrated Franklin on the same occasion.
MY DEAR SIR,
March 3, 1783. It is with little less satisfaction to myself than it can give you, that I send you the inclosed, and I do assure you there are few events, in which I could have felt so sensible a mortification, as in that of your finally missing this favourite object. The weather suggests to me as no slight topic of congratulation, your being relieved from such a journey and under such circumstances, as your last favour intimates you had in contemplation for Wednesday; but when I consider this appointment as securing to you at once, two of the first objects of human pursuit, those of ambition and love, I feel it a subject of very serious and cordial congratulation, which I desire you to accept, and to convey accordingly. I am, with every good wish, dear Sir, Your faithful humble servant,