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beauty of his reputation to the last, yet (while he lives) his very virtue may incur some evil imputation, and provoke a thousand murmurs of detraction ; for, believe me, my dear sister, there is no instance of any virtue, or social excellence, which has not excited the envy of innumerable assailants, whose acrimony is raised barely by seeing others pleased, and by hearing commendation which another enjoys. It is not easy in this life for any man to escape censure; and infamy requires very little labour to assist its circulation. But there is a kind of sanction in the characters of the dead, which gives due force and reward to their merits, and defends them from the suggestions of calumny. But to return to the point; what reason is there to disturb yourself on this melancholy occasion ? do but reflect that thousands die every moment of time, that even while we speak, some unhappy wretch or other is either pining with hunger, or pinched with poverty, sometimes giving up his life to the point of the sword, torn with convulsive agonies, and undergoing many miseries which it were superfluous to mention. We should therefore compare our afflictions with those who are more miserable, and not with those who are more happy. I am ashamed to add more, lest I should seem to mistrust your prudence; but next week, when I understand your mind is more composed, I shall write you word how all things go here. I designed to write you this letter in French, but I thought I could express my thoughts with more energy, in my own language.
I come now, after a long interval, to mention some more private circumstances. Pray give my duty to my Mamma, and thank her for my shirts. They fit, in my opinion, very well; though Biddy says they are too little in the arms. You may expect a letter from me every day in the week till I come home; for Mrs. Biscoe has desired it, and has given me some franks. When you see her, you may tell her that her little boy sends his duty to her, and Mr.
Biscoe his love to his sister, and desires to be remembered to Miss Cleeve : he also sends his compliments to my Mamma and you. Upon my word I never thought our bleak air would have so good an effect upon him. His complexion is now ruddy, which before was sallow and pale, and he is indeed much grown : but I now speak of trifles, I mean in comparison of his learning; and indeed he takes that with wonderful acuteness; besides, his excessive high spirits increase mine, and give me comfort, since, after Parnell's departure, he is almost the only company I keep. As for news; the only article I know is, that Mrs. Par is dead and buried. Mr. and Mrs. Sumner are well : the latter thanks you for bringing the letter from your old acquaintance, and the former has made me an elegant present. I am now very much taken up with study; am to speak Antony's speech in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (which play I will read to you when I come to town), and am this week to make a declamation. I add no more than the sincere well-wishes of your faithful friend, And affectionate brother, WILLIAM Jon Es.
If I am not deceived by my partiality for the memory of Sir William Jones, this letter will be perused with interest by the public. The topics selected for the consolation of his sister, are not indeed of the most novel nature, nor the best adapted to afford it; and we may smile at the gravity of the young moralist, contrasted with the familiarity of the circumstances detailed in the latter part of the epistle, which I found no disposition to reject: but the letter, as it stands, will furnish no contemptible proof of his talents and fraternal affection, and may serve as a standard of comparison to parents, for estimating the abilities of their own children.
E. o The
The period of tuition under Dr. Sumner passed rapidly, to the mutual satisfaction of the master and scholar, until Jones had reached his seventeenth year; when it was determined to remove him to one of the Universities. This determination was not adopted without much hesitation ; for it had been strongly recommended to his mother, by Sergeant Prime, and other Lawyers, to place him, at the age of sixteen, in the office of some eminent special pleader: and they supported their recommendation by an observation, equally flattering to him and tempting to his mother, that his talents, united with such indefatigable industry, must ensure the most brilliant success, and consequently the acquisition of wealth and reputation. It is a singular proof of his curiosity to explore unusual tracks of learning, that, at this early age, he had perused the Abrid gement of Coke's Institutes, by Ireland, with so much attention, that he frequently amused the legal friends of his mother, by reasoning with them on old cases, which were supposed to be confined to the learned in the profession. The law, however, at that time, had little attraction for him ; and he felt no inclination to renounce his Demosthenes and Cicero for the pleadings in Westminster-Hall. His disgust to the study of the law had also been particularly excited, by the perusal of some old and inaccurate abridgement of law-cases in barbarous Latin. This disinclination on his part, the solicitude of Dr. Sumner, that he should devote some years to the completion of his studies at the University, and the objections of his mother, founded on reasons of economy, to a profession which could not be pursued without considerable expense, fixed her decision against the advice of her legal friends. The choice of an University was also the occasion of some discussion. Cambridge was recommended by Dr. Sumner, who had received his education there : but Dr. Glasse, who had private pupils at Harrow, and had always distinguished Jones by the kindest attention, recommended Oxford. His choice was adopted by Mrs. Jones, who, in compliance with the wishes of her son, had determined to reside at the University with him, and greatly preferred the situation of Oxford.
In the Spring of 1764, he went to the University for the purpose of being matriculated and entered at College": but he returned to Harrow for a few months, that he might finish a course of lectures, which he had just begun, and in which he had been highly interested by the learning, eloquence, taste, and sagacity, of his excellent instructor. They separated soon after with mutual regret, and in the following term he fixed himself at Oxford.
The name of Jones was long remembered at Harrow, with the respect due to his superior talents and unrivalled erudition; and he was frequently quoted by Dr. Sumner, as the ornament of his school, and as an example for imitation. He had not only distinguished himself by the extent of his classical attainments, and his poetical compositions, but by the eloquence of his declamations, and the masterly manner in which they were delivered. In the varied talents which constitute an orator, Dr. Sumner himself excelled; and his pupil had equally benefited by his example and instruction. In the behaviour of Jones towards his school-fellows, he never exhibited that tyranny, which in the larger seminaries of learning is sometimes practised by the senior, over the younger students. His disposition equally revolted at the exercise or sufferance of oppression; and he early exhibited a mind, strongly impressed with those moral distinctions which he ever retained. Of the friend
* The following is the form of his admission into University College, copied from his own writing:—Ego Gulielmus Jones, filius unicus Gulielmi Jones, Armigeri, de civitate Lond. lubens subscribo sub tutamine Magistri Betts, et Magistri Coulson, annos natus Septendecim. -
ships ships which he contracted at school, many were afterwards cultivated with reciprocal affection; and among the friends of his early years, some still survive, who remember his virtues with delight, and deplore his loss.
His friend Parnell, whose departure from school he laments in the letter to his sister, was the late Sir John Parnell, who held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, in Ireland. His testimony of the merits, capacity, and proficiency of his friend and fellowstudent, at Harrow, extracted from a memorandum, which he gave to Lady Jones, will confirm my own account of him:—“The early “ period of life is not usually marked by extraordinary anecdote: “but small circumstances become interesting, when we can trace in “ them the first principles of virtue, and the first symptoms of those “ talents which afterwards so eminently distinguished the character “ of Sir William Jones. He gave very early proofs of his possessing “very extraordinary abilities. His industry was very great, and his “love of literature was the result of disposition, and not of submis“sion to control. He excelled principally in his knowledge of “ the Greek language. His compositions were distinguished by his “precise application of every word, agreeably to the most strict “classical authority. He imitated the choruses of Sophocles so “successfully, that his writings seemed to be original Greek com“ positions; and he was attentive even in writing the Greek “characters with great correctness. His time being employed in “study, prevented his joining in those plays and amusements which “occupied the time of his other school-fellows: but it induced no “other singularity in his manners; they were mild, conciliating, “ and cheerful. When I first knew him, about the year 1761, he “amused himself with the study of botany, and in collecting fossils. “In general, the same pursuits which gave employment to his “mature understanding, were the first objects of his youthful “attention,