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to offer my tribute, where it is most due, to my best landlord, who, instead of claiming, like the India company, sixteen shillings in the pound for the neat profits of my farm (I speak correctly, though metaphorically) voluntarily offers me indulgences, even if I should run in arrears.
You have received, I trust, the pods of the finest Dacca cotton, with which the cominercial resident at that station supplied me, and which I sent by different conveyances, some inclosed to yourself, some to Sir George Young, and some by private hands. But I have always found it safer to send letters and small parcels by the public packet, than by careless and inconsiderate individuals. I am not partial to the pryangu, which I now find is its true name ; but Mr. Shore found benefit from it, and procured the fresh plants from Arracan, which died unluckily in their way to Calcutta. But seriously, it deserves a longer trial before its tonic virtues, if it have any, can be ascertained. It is certainly not so fine a bitter as camomile or columbo root.
I wish politics at the devil, but hope that, when the King recovered, science revived. It gives me great pain to know, that party as it is called (I call it faction, because I hold party to be grounded on principles, and faction on self-interest, which excludes all principle) has found its way into a literary club, who meet reciprocally to impart and receive new ideas. I have deep-rooted political principles, which the law taught me : but I should never think of introducing them among men of science, and if, on my return to Europe ten or twelve years hence, I should not find more science than politics in the club, my seat in it will be at the service of politician who may wish to be one of the party.
An intimate friend of Mr. Blane has written to him, at my request, for the newly discovered fragrant grass; and should the plants be sent before the last ships of the season sail, they shall be sent to you. Whether they be the nard of the ancients, I must doubt, because we have sweet grasses here of innumerable species; and Reuben Burrow brought me an odoriferous grass from the place where the Ganges enters India, and where it covers whole acres, and perfumes the whole country. From his account of it, I suspect it to be Mr. Blane’s; but I could make nothing of the dry specimens, except that they differed widely from the Jatamansi, which I am persuaded is the Indian nard of Ptolemy. I can only procure the dry Jatamansi, but if I can get the stalks, roots, and flowers from Butan, I will send them to you. Since the death of König, we are in great want of a professed botanist. I have twice read with rapture the Philosophia Botanica, and have Murray's edition of the “ genera et species plantarum” always with me; but, as I am no lynx, like Linnæus, I cannot examine minute blossoms, especially those of
We are far advanced in the second volume of our Transactions.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to JOHN WILMOT, Esq.
Sept. 20, 1789. Every sentence in your letter gave me great pleasure, and particularly the pleasing and just account of your truly venerable father. Lady Jones, after the first pang for the loss of hers, resigned herself with true piety to the will of God. She is very weak, and always ill during the heats. I have been, ever since my seasoning, as they call it, perfectly well, notwithstanding incessant business seven hours in a day, for four or five months in a year, and unremitted application, during the vacations, to a vast and in
teresting study, a complete knowledge of India, which I can only attain in the country itself, and I do not mean to stay in the coantry longer than the last year of the eighteenth century. I rejoice that the King is well, but take no interest in the contests of your aristocratical factions. The time never was, when I would have enlisted under the banners of any faction, though I might have carried a pair of colours, if I had not spurned them, in either legion. My party is that of the whole people, and my principles, which the law taught me, are only to be changed by a change of existence.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to Mr. Justice HYDE.
Oct. 20, 1789. Though I hope, my dear Sir, to be with you almost as soon as this letter, yet I write it because it is the last that I shall write to any one for the next eleven months, and I feel so light, after the completion of my severe epistolary task, that I am disposed to play a voluntary. I have answered fifty very long letters from Europe, and a multitude of short ones; among the rest, I had one from the Chief Baron, who desires his remembrance to you by the title of his old and worthy friend. Another from Master Wilmot informs me, that his father, Sir Eardley, had nearly ended his eightieth year, with as good health, and as clear intellects, as hę ever had in the prime of life. When I express a hope of seeing you in two or three days, it is only a hope; for I shall affront the Mandarin at Chinsura*, if I do not make my annual visit to him ; now I can only visit him at night, and the wind and tide may delay me, as they did last year. In all events, I shall be with you
if I live, before the end of the week, as I am preparing to go on board my pinnace. Besides my annuities of Europe letters, which I pay at this season, I have been winding up all the odds and ends of all * Mr. Titsingh, Governor of Chinsura.
my private or literary concerns, and shall think of nothing for eleven months to come, but law, European or Indian. I have written four
papers for our expiring society, on very curious subjects, and have prepared materials for a discourse on the Chinese : the society is a puny, rickety child, and must be fed with pap; nor shall it die by my fault; but die it must, for I cannot alone support it. In my youthful days, I was always ready to join in a dance or a concert, but I could never bring myself to dance a solitary hornpipe, or to play a solo. When I see Titsingh (who, by the way, will never write any thing for us, as long as his own Batavian society subsists), I will procure full information concerning the pincushion rice, and will report it to you. Lady Jones is as usual, and sends her best remembrance. I too am as usual, and as ever, dear Sir, your faithful, &c.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to J. SHORE, Esq.
Oct. 20, 1789.
Your approbation of Sacontala, gives at least as much pleasure to the translator as you had from the perusal of it, and would encourage me to translate more dramas, if I were not resolved to devote all my time to law, European and Indian.
The idea of your happiness, (and few men have a brighter prospect of it than yourself,) reconciles me to our approaching separation, though it must be very long: for I will not see England, while the interested factions which distract it, leave the legislature no time for the great operations which are essential for public felicity, while patriotic virtues are derided as visionary, and while the rancour of contending parties fills with thorns those particular societies, in which I hoped to gather nothing but roses.
I am sorry
sorry (for the metaphor brings to my mind the Bostani Kheiyal*) that the garden of fancy should have as many weeds as that of politics. Surajélhak, pronounced it with emphasis, a wonderful work; and a young Mussulman assured me, that it comprised all the finest inventions of India and Persia. The work will probably mend as it proceeds.
We must spare ourselves the pain of taking a formal leave; so farewell. May you live happy in a free country !
I am, &c.
The affectionate wish which concludes these extracts from the correspondence of Sir William Jones, was dictated by the circumstance of my departure from India: it has been verified ; and the recollection of the place, which I held in his esteem, however accompanied with regret for his death, is an additional source of that: happiness, which he wished me to enjoy.
Among other literary occupations in which he employed himself during the two last years, it is to be noticed, that he undertook the office of editor of the elegant poein of Hatefi, on the unfortunate loves of Laili and Mujnoon, an Arabian youth and princess. The benevolent object of his labours renders them interesting, as the book was published at his own expense, with a declared appropriation of the produce of the sale, to the relief of insolvent debtors in the gaol at Calcutta.
In the English preface to the Persian work, he has given a translation of five distichs in the measure of the original, and has shewn
The Garden of Fancy; the title of an Eastern romance in Persian, in sixteen quarto volumes.