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spikenard in the alabaster-box of the Gospel ? What was nardi parvus onyx P What did Ptolemy mean by the excellent nard of Rhangamutty in Bengal 2 I have been in vain endeavouring for above two years to procure an answer to these questions ; your answer will greatly oblige me. o
Sir WILLIAM JONES to THOMAS CALDICOTT, Esq. Chrishna-nagur, Sept. 27, 1787.
Your brother sent me your letter at a convenient time, and to a convenient place, for I can only, write in the long vacation, which I generally spend in a delightful cottage, about as far from Calcutta as Oxford is from London, and close to an ancient university of Brahmans, with whom I now converse familiarly in Sanscrit. You would be astonished at the resemblance between that language and both Greek and Latin. Sanscrit and Arabic will enable me to do this country more essential service, than the introduction of arts (even if I should be able to introduce them) by procuring an accurate digest of Hindu and Mohammedan laws, which the natives hold sacred, and by which both justice and policy require that they should be governed.
I have published nothing; but Armenian clerks make such blunders, that I print ten or twenty copies of every thing I compose, which are to be considered as manuscripts. I beg you will send me your remarks on my plan of an epic poem. Sanscrit has engaged my vacations lately ; but I will finish it, if I live. I promise you to attend to all that is said, especially if alterations are suggested, always reserving to myself the final judgment. One thing I am inflexible in ; I have maturely considered the point, and am resolved to write in blank verse. I have not time to add my reasons; but they are good.
I thank you for Sheridan's speech, which I could not however read through. For the last sixteen years of my life, I have been in a habit of requiring evidence of all assertions, and I have no leisure to examine proofs in a business so foreign to my pursuits. * * * * * # $ + * o * * * * * If Hastings and Impey are guilty, in God's name let them be punished; but let them not be condemned without legal evidence. I will say more of myself, than you do of yourself, but in few words. I never was unhappy in England ; it was not in my nature to be so ; but I never was happy till I was settled in India. My constitution has overcome the climate ; and if I could say the same of my beloved wife, I should be the happiest of men; but she has perpetual complaints, and of course I am in perpetual anxiety on her account.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to J. WILMOT, Esq.
Chrishna-nagur, Bengal, Oct. S, 1787.
o + # # * o: # + + •
* # to I cannot, however, let the season slip, without
seribbling a few lines to tell you, that my constitution seems to
have overcome the climate, and that I should be as happy as a
mortal man can be, or perhaps ought to be, if my wife had been as well as I have for the last three years.
I have nothing to say of India politics, except that Lord Cornwallis and * * * are justly popular, and perhaps the most virtuous governors in the world. Of English politics I say nothing; because I doubt whether you and I should ever agree in them. I do not mean the narrow politics of contending parties, but the great principles of government and legislation, the majesty of the whole nation collectively, and the consistency of popular rights with regal prerogative, which ought to be supported, to suppress the oligarchical power. But in India I think little of these Imatters.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to J. SHORE, Esq. - Crishna-nagur, Oct. 10, 1787. I hope in less than a fortnight to see you in perfect health, as I shall leave this charming retreat on the 20th. I want but a few leaves of having read your copy of Hafez twice through ; and I am obliged to you for the most agreeable task (next the Shah-nameh) I ever performed. The annexed elegy” was sent to
* The elegy alluded to, which has been since printed in a collection of poems, is the following:
PHILEMON. An Elegy.
Where shade yon yews the church-yard's lonely bourn,
Loud shrieks the blast, the sleety torrent drives,
For this the date that stamp'd his partner's doom;
No sighs he breath'd, for anguish riv'd his breast;
Now time has calm’d, not cur'd Philemon's woe,
me by the post; and I send it to you, because I think you will like it. There is a great pathos in the fourth tetrastick; and I know unhappily that excessive grief is neither full of tears, nor full of words; yet if a dramatic poet were to represent such grief naturally, I doubt whether his conduct would be approved, though with fine acting and fine sounds in the orchestra, it ought to have a wonderful effect. Lady J. is pretty well ; a tiger about a month old, who is suckled by a goat, and has all the gentleness of his foster-mother, is now playing at her feet. I call him Jupiter. Adieu.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to Dr. FORD. Gardens, on the Ganges, Jan. 5, 1788. Give me leave to recommend to your kind attentions Colonel Polier, who will deliver this to you at Oxford. He presents to the university an extremely rare work in Sanscrit, a copy of the four vedas, or Indian scriptures, which confirm, instead of opposing the Mosaic account of the creation, and of the deluge. He is imself one of the best disposed and best informed men, who ever left India. If he embark to-morrow, I shall not be able to send you, by him, an Arabic manuscript, which I have read with a native of Mecca, the poems of the great Ali. * # $; # + # # + # ** #: Our return to Europe is very distant; but I hope, before the end of the eighteenth century, to have the pleasure of conversing with you, and to give you a good account of Persia, through which I purpose to return.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to Sir JOSEPH BANKS. Gardens, near Calcutta, Feb. 25, 1788. I was highly gratified by your kind letter, and have diffused great pleasure among our astronomers here, by shewing
them an account of the lunar volcano. The Brahmans, to whom - I have I have related the discovery in Sanscrit, are highly delighted with it. Public business presses on me so heavily at this season, that I must postpone the pleasure of writing fully to you, till I can retire in the long vacation to my cottage, where I hear nothing of plaintiffs or defendants. Your second commission I will faithfully execute, and have already made enquiries concerning the dacca cotton ; but I shall be hardly able to procure the seeds, &c. before the Rodney sails. t # :: $ # $ # These letters describe the elegant occupations of a mind disciplined in the school of science, ardent to embrace it in all its extent, and to make even its amusements subservient to the advancement of useful knowledge, and the public good. From the discharge of his appointed duties, we see Sir William Jones returning with avidity to his literary pursuits, improving his acquaintance with botany, and, relaxing from the severity of study by the perusal of the most admired Oriental authors, communicating his pleasures and acquirements to his friends. There are few of his letters in which he does not introduce the name of Lady Jones, with that affection which never abated : she was his constant companion, and the associate of the literary entertainment which occupied and amused his evenings.
Amongst the letters which I have transcribed, I cannot pass, without particular notice, that which he wrote to me in the beginning of 1787. The prediction which it contains, is a melancholy proof of the disappointment of human expectations; and I am now discharging the duty of affection for his memory, at a short distance only from the spot which he mentions, as the anticipated scene of future delight, and where I once fondly hoped to enjoy the happiness of his society. That happincss would indeed have imparted a higher bloom to the valleys of Devonshire, which I 3 In OW