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poor Koenig had left his papers to you ; Banks has too much of his own to employ him, and Macpherson, who loved the sage, would I dare say have persuaded Lord Cornwallis to raise the best monument to his memory, a good edition of his works. I have carefully examined a plant, which Koenig mentioned to me, and called pentapethes protea, from the singular variety of leaves on the same tree. The natives call it Mascamchand; and one of its fragrant fleshy blossoms, infused for a night in a glass of water, forms a mucilage of a very cooling quality. The pentapethes phoenicia, which now beautifies this plain, produces a similar mucilage, which might answer the same purposes as that of the Arabian gum, if not other and more important purposes. But I mention this plant, because Koenig told me, that Linnaeus had inverted nature in his description of it, by assigning to it five castrated filaments, to each of which were annexed three prolific ones; whereas, said he, (I am sure I did not mistake him) the flower has fifteen castrated, and five prolific; so that in truth it would have been pentandrian. Now I have examined all the flowers of this species that I could get, and I find the description of Linnaeus to be correct; but there is no accounting for the variety of a protean plant.
Many thanks, for your offer of Mr. D'Hancarville, but I have the book, though like you I have not read it. I wish to be firm in Sanscrit, before I read systems of mythology. We have sent the first papers of our transactions to the press, and shall go on as fast as Mr. G.'s compositor will let us. Farewell, my dear Sir; vivere, valere, et philosophari cum paucis, is what I wish for you, as much as for your, &c.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to WILLIAM SHIPLEY, Esq.
Crishna-nagur, Oct. 5, 1786. I blush, my dear Sir, in reading a second or third time with increasing delight, your excellent letters from Maidstone, when I compare the dates of them with that of my answer. Various, however, are the causes which oblige me to be an indifferent and slow correspondent; first, illness, which had confined me three months to my couch, where your first letter found me on the great river; next, the discharge of an important duty, which falls peculiarly heavy on the Indian judges, who are forced to act as justices of the peace in a populous country where the police is deplorably bad; then the difficult study of Hindu and Mohammedan laws, in two copious languages, Sanserit and Arabic, which studies are inseparably connected with my public duty, and may tend to establish by degrees, among ten millions of our black subjects, that security of descendable property, a want of which, as you justly observe, has prevented the people of Asia from improving their agriculture and mechanical arts; lastly, I may add (though rather an amusement than a duty) my pursuit of general literature, which I have here an opportunity of doing from the fountain head, an opportunity, which if lost, may never be recovered. When I accept therefore with gratitude the honour of. fered me by your young Hercules, the Maidstone Society, of being
* William Shipley, Esq. brother to the late Bishop of St. Asaph, and now in his 89th year. He suggested the idea of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Commerce, &c. which was established in 1753, and in the following year, a gold medal was voted to
him by the society, with an inscription:
To William Shipley,
one of their corresponding members, I cannot indulge a hope of being a diligent or useful correspondent, unless any discovery should be made by our Indian Society, which I may think likely to be of use in our common country. Your various papers I have distributed among those, who seemed the likeliest to avail themselves of the rules and hints which they contain. The rapidity of the Ganges, makes it extremely difficult to rescue the unhappy persons who are overset in boats, especially at the time of the bore*, when such accidents most usually happen; but I am confident that the methods prescribed in the little work which you sent me, will often be salutary even here. Dr. Johnson's tract I have now lent to a medical friend of great ability; and I am particularly interested in the security of our prisons from infection, to which indeed they are less liable in this climate, from our practice of sleeping in a draught of air whenever it can be had. Without this habit, to which I am now enured, we should never be free from putrid disorders. * # # # # # *: # * • * # + * # Should your society be so extended as to admit all Kent, you will, I trust, have an excellent member in one of my oldest college friends, Doctor Breton, of Broughton, near Ashford, who has left no path of science or literature unexplored. We shall print our transactions with all speed consistent with accuracy; but as all our members, including even our printer, are men of business, in commerce, revenue, or judicature, we cannot proceed very rapidly, either in giving the public the tracts we have already collected, or in adding to our collection.
* The bore, is an expression applied to a peculiar swell in the Hughli river, occasioned by the rapid influx of the tide; it breaks in shallow water along the shore, and no boat can resist its violence. The noise of its approach is heard at a distance of some miles, and the boats to avoid it are rowed into deep water, where the agitation is considerable, but not dangerous. The bores are highest about the equinoxes, and at the middle periods between them cease altogether.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to Sir J. MACPHERSON, IBart.
- Calcutta, Nov. 1786. The society heard with pleasure, the curious account of the Lama's inauguration; and the first sheet of their transactions is printed. * * # * * # # # * # + # # * Be assured, that I will ever remember the contents of your own letter; and accept my thanks for the pleasure which I have received from that of Mr. Adam Ferguson to you. One sentence of it is so wise, and so well expressed, that I read it
till I had it by heart. “Justice to the stranger,” &c.
I am correcting proofs of our Transactions, which will, I hope, satisfy Mr. Ferguson as to the theology of the Hindus. By rising before the sun, I allot an hour every day to Sanscrit, and am
charmed with knowing so beautiful a sister of Latin and Greek. “ :: * * # # + *
Magnum vectigal est parsimonia, is an aphorism which I learned early from Cicero. The public, if they are grateful, must wish that you had attended as vigilantly to your own vectigal, as you have wisely and successfully to theirs.
In September, Lord Cornwallis arrived at Fortwilliam, with the appointment of Governor-General ; and the writer of these sheets, who accompanied him to India, had the happiness of renewing his personal intimacy with Sir William Jones.
The uniformity which marked the remaining period of his allotted existence, admits of little variety of delineation. The largest portion of each year was devoted to his professional duties and studies; and all the time that could be saved from these important avocations, tions, was dedicated to the cultivation of science and literature. Some periods were chequered by illness, the consequence of intense application; and others were embittered by the frequent and severe indisposition of the partner of his cares and object of his affections. “The climate of India” (as he had already found occasion to remark in a letter to a friend) “had been unpropitious to the “delicate constitution of his beloved wife;” and so apprehensive was he of the consequences, that he intended, “ unless some “favourable alteration should take place, to urge her return to “her native country, preferring the pang of separation for five “ or six years to the anguish, which he should hardly survive, of “losing her.”
While business required the daily attendance of Sir William Jones, in Calcutta, his usual residence was on the banks of the Ganges, at the distance of five miles from the court; to this spot he returned every evening after sun-set, and in the morning rose so early as to reach his apartments in town by walking, at the first appearance of the dawn. Having severely suffered from the heat of the sun, he ever afterwards dreaded and avoided an exposure to it; and in his hymn to Surya, he alludes to its effect upon him, and to his moon-light rambles in the following lines:
Then roves thy poet free,
Who with no borrow'd art,
Dares hymn thy pow'r, and durst provoke thy blaze,
From him, who gave the wound, the balsam prays,
The intervening period of each morning until the opening of the court, was regularly allotted and applied to distinct studies. He passed the months of vacation at his retirement at Crishna-nagur, in his usual pursuits. Some of the literary productions of his retire