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will promote them, but though I have a very extensive acquaintance, I neither have, nor can have, influence. I can only approve and recommend, and do my best to circulate your proposals. We are equally obliged to you for your kind invitation, as if we had it in our power to accept it; but I fear we cannot leave Calcutta long enough to revisit your Indian Montpelier. As one of the Cymrodorians, I am warmly interested in British antiquities and literature; but my honour is pledged for the completion of the new digest of Hindu laws, and I have not a moment to spare for any other study.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to Sir J. SINCLAIR, Bart. Whitehall.
Chrishna-nagur, Oct. 15, 1791. You may rely upon my best endeavours to procure information conceruing the Asiatic wool, or soft hair ; and the animals that carry it.
it. I had the pleasure of circulating your very interesting tracts at Calcutta, and of exhibiting the specimens of very beautiful wool with which you favoured me. My own time, however, is engaged from morning to night in discharging my public duties, and in arranging the new digest of Indian laws. I must therefore depend chiefly on others in procuring the information you are desirous of obtaining. Mr. Bebb of the board of trade, and Colonel Kyd who superintends the Company's garden, have promised to assist me. The wool of these provinces is too coarse to be of use; but that of Kerman in Persia, which you know by the name of Carmanian wool, is reckoned exquisitely fine, and you might I suppose procure the sheep from Bombay. The shawl goats would live, I imagine, and breed, in England; but it is no less difficult to procure the females from Cashmir, than to procure mares from Arabia. When you see Mr. Richardson, do me the favour to give him my best thanks for the parcel, which he sent me by the desire of the Highland Society.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to GEORGE HARDING, Esq.
Chrishna-nagur, Oct. 16, 1791. If the warmth of hearts were measured by the frequency of letters, my heart must be thought the coldest in the world ; but you, I am confident, will never apply so fallacious a thermometer. In serious truth, I am, and must be, the worst of correspondents for the following reasons among a hundred, a strong glare and weak eyes, long tasks and short day-light, confinement in court six hours a day, and in my chambers three or four, not to mention casual interruptions and engagements. You spoke so lightly of your complaint, that I thought it must be transient, and should have been extremely grieved, if, in the very moment when I heard you had been seriously ill, I had not heard of
Anna Maria has promised me to sail for Europe in January 1793, and I will follow her, when I can live as well in England on my private fortune as I can do here on half my salary.
I cannot but like your sonnets, yet wish you would abstain from politicks, which add very little to the graces of poetry.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to Sir JOSEPH BANKS.
Chrishna-nagur, Oct. 18, 1791. I thank you heartily for
kind letters, but perhaps I cannot express my thanks better than by answering them as exactly as I am able.
First, as to sending plants from India, I beg you to accept my excuses, and to make them to Sir George Young, for my apparent inattention to such commissions. In short, if you wish to transfer
our Indian plants to the Western islands, the Company must direct Kyd and Roxburgh to send them, and their own captains to receive them, and attend to them.
We are in sad want of a travelling botanist, with some share of my poor friend Kænig's knowledge and zeal. A stationary botanist would fix on the indigo-fera, as the chief object of his care. Roxburgh will do much on the coast, if he can be relieved from his terrible head-achs, but here we have no assistance.
I have neither eyes nor time for a botanist, yet with Lady Jones's assistance, I am continually advancing; and we have examined about 170 Linnæan genera. She brought home, a morning or two ago, the most lovely epidendrum that ever was seen, but the description of it would take up too much room in a letter; it grew on a lofty amra, but it is an air plant, and puts forth its fragrant enamelled blossoms in a pot without earth or water: none of the many species of Linnæus corresponds exactly with it. You must not imagine that, because I am, and shall be, saucy about the Linnean language, that I have not the highest veneration for its great author; but I think his diction barbarous and pedantic, particularly in his Philosophia Botanica, which I have a right to criticise, having read it three times with equal attention and pleasure. Had Van Rheede exhibited the Sanscrit names with accuracy, we should not be puzzled with reading the Indian poems and medical tracts; but in all his twelve volumes, I have not found above ten or twelve names correctly expressed, either in Sanscrit or Arabic. I shall touch again on botany, but I proceed with your first letter. I have little knowledge of Yacob Bruce; but his five volumes, which I read aloud, (except some passages which I could only read with my eyes) are so entertaining that I wished for five more, and readily forgave not only his mistakes in the botanical language, and
in Arabic, but even his arrogance, which he carries extra flammantia mænia mundi.
Keir's paper on distilling I never saw in print, though I must have heard it read by our secretary; but as the worthy author of it is in London, where you will have probably met him, he will satisfy you on the subject.
The madhuca is, beyond a doubt, the bassia; but I can safely assert, that not one of fifty blossoms which I have examined, had 16 filaments, 8 above the throat, and 8 within the tube. That Koenig, whom I knew to be very accurate, had seen such a character, I doubt not, but he should not have set it down as constant. I frequently saw 26 and 28 filaments, sometimes 12, and the average was about 20 or 22. By the way, my excellent friend, you will do us capital service, either by printing Kønig's manuscripts, or by sending us a copy of them; and we will send return, not only the correct Sanscrit names, but the plants themselves, at least the seeds, if you can prevail on any captain to take care of them. That the poem of Calidas entertained you, gives me great pleasure, but it diverts me extremely to hear from others, that the authenticity of the poem is doubted in England; but I am not sure that my own errors of inattention may not have occasioned mis. takes. The use of the pollen in flowers is, I believe, well known to the Brahmans; but I am not sure, that I have not added the epithet prolific, to distinguish it from common dust, which would have been the exact version of renu. The blue nymphæa, which I have sound reasons for believing the lotus of Egypt, is a native of Upper India; here we have only the white and rose-coloured. Filament is not used as a botanical word, but merely as a thread, and the filaments for the bracelet are drawn from the stalk of the
nymphæa. The hart properly so called, may not be a native of Bengal; but Calidas lived at Ugein, and lays bis scene near the northern mountains; all the rest is clear: bears and boars, and all wild beasts have been hunted here immemorially. The cocila, sings charmingly here in the spring; Polier will shew you drawings of the male and female, but will perhaps call it co-il: the story of its always struck me as very remarkable. The amra is mangifera'; the mellica, I believe, nyctanthes zambak; the madhavi creeper, banisteria. The ensa, I cannot see in blossom. The swisha is mimosa odoratissima, the pippála, ficus religiosa. If I recollect lacsha, it is not a plant, but tac. Vana dosini is a Sanscrit epithet of the banisteria. As to nard, I know not what to say; if the Greeks meant only fragrant grass, we have nards in abundance, acorus, schoenus, andropogon, cyperus, &c. But I have no evidence that they meant any such thing. On Arrian, or rather on Aristobulus, we cannot safely rely, as they place cinnamon in Arabia, and myrrh in Persia. Should any travelling botanist find the species of andropogon, mentioned by Dr. Blane in the plains of Gedrosia, it would be some evidence, but would at the same time prove that it was not the Indian nard, which never was supposed to grow
in Persia. As at present advised, I believe the Indian nard of the ancients to have been a valerian, at least the nard of Ptolemy, which is brought from the very country, mentioned by him as famed for spikenard.
And now, my dear Sir Joseph, I have gone through both your letters: I am for many good reasons a bad correspondent, but principally because the discharge of my public duties leaves me no more time than is sufficient for necessary refreshments and relaxation.
The last twenty years of my life I shall spend, I trust, in a studious retreat; and if you know of a pleasant country house to be