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At the end of the same treatise, Sir William Jones enumerates the sad obstacles to the extension of our "pure faith” in Hindustan, and concludes as follows:
“ The only human mode perhaps of causing so great a revolution, “ is to translate into Sanscrit and Persian, such chapters of the “ prophets, and particularly Isaiah, as are indisputably erangelical,
together with one of the Gospels, and a plain prefatory discourse containing full evidence of the very distant ages, in which the
predictions themselves and the history of the divine person predic“ ted, were severally made public, and then quietly to disperse the “ work among the well-educated natives, with whom, if in due time " it failed of promoting very salutary fruit by its natural influence, “ we could only lament more than ever, the strength of prejudice “ and weakness of unassisted reason.”
That the conversion of the Hindus toʻthe Christian religion, would have afforded him the sincerest pleasure, may be fairly inferred from the above passage; his wish that it should take place, is still more clearly expressed in the following quotation from one of his Hymns to Lachsini, the Ceres of India, and a personification of the Divine Goodness. After describing most feelingly and poetically the horrid effects of famine in India, he thus concludes the hymn :
From ills that, painted, harrow up the breast,
(What agonies, if real, must they give !)
Oh! bid the patient Hindu rise and live.
Clouded by priestly wiles,
Now, stretch'd o'er ocean's vast, from happier isles,
Disperse th' unholy gloom!
Their strife appease, their gentler claims decide!
So shall their victors, mild with virtuous pride,
With temper'd love be fear'd;
The testimony of Sir William Jones to the verity and authenticity of the Old and New Testament is well known, from the care with which it has been circulated in England ; but as it has a particular claim to be inserted in the memoirs of his life, I transcribe it from his own manuscript in his Bible:
“ I have carefully and regularly perused these Holy Scriptures, " and am of opinion, that the volume, independently of its divine
origin, contains more sublimity, purer morality, more important “ history, and finer strains of eloquence, than can be collected “ from all other books, in whatever language they may have been 66 written.”
This opinion is repeated with little variation of expression, in a discourse addressed to the society in February, 1791:
Theological enquiries are no part of my present subject; but I “ cannot refrain from adding, that the collection of tracts, which we “ call from their excellence the Scriptures, contain, independently of a “ divine origin, more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, purer mo
rality, more important history, and finer strains both of poetry and “ eloquence, than could be collected, within the same compass, from
« all other books that were ever composed in any age, or in any idiom. “ The two parts of which the Scriptures consist, are connected by a “ chain of compositions, which bear no resemblance in form or style “ to any that can be produced from the stores of Grecian, Indian, “ Persian, or even Arabian learning; the antiquity of those compo“sitions no man doubts; and the unstrained application of them to “ events long subsequent to their publication, is a solid ground of “ belief, that they were genuine compositions, and consequently in
spired. But, if any thing be the absolute exclusive property of “ each individual, it is his belief; and I hope I should be one of “ the last men living, who could harbour a thought of obtruding
my own belief on the free minds of others."
In his discourse of the following year, we find him again mentioning the Mosaic history, under a supposition, assumed for the sake of the argument which he was discussing, that it had no higher authority than any other book of history, which the researches of the curious had accidentally brought to light.
“ On this supposition,” (I quote his own words,) 66 that the first “ eleven chapters of the book which it is thought proper to call
Genesis, are merely a preface to the oldest civil history now ex“ tant, we see the truth of them confirmed by antecedent reasoning, “ and by evidence in part highly probable, and in part certain.” But that no misconception might be entertained on this awful subject by the ignorant, and to avoid the possibility of any perverse misapplication of his sentiments, he adds : “ but the connection of “ the Mosaic history with that of the Gospel, by a chain of sub“ lime predictions unquestionably ancient, and apparently* ful
* I could wish that Sir William Jones bad retained the expression, which he before used, when discussing the same topic, as the word apparently may seem to imply
“ filled, must induce us to think the Hebrew narrative more than “ human in its origin, and consequently true in every substantial
part of it, though possibly expressed in figurative language, as many learned and pious men have believed, and as the most
pious may believe without injury, and perhaps with advantage “ to the cause of Revealed Religion.”
The third volume of the Asiatic Researches, published in 1792, contains a very learned and elaborate treatise of Lieutenant Wilford, on Egypt and the Nile, from the ancient books of the Hindus. It refers to a passage in a Sanscrit book, so clearly descriptive of Noah, under the name of Satyvrata, or Satyavarman, that it is impossible to doubt their identity. Of the passage thus referred to, Sir William Jones, in a note annexed to the dissertation, has given a translation - minutely exact." Neither the passage, nor the note, has appeared in the works of Sir William Jones ;, and as the former is curious, and as the note has an immediate connection with the subject under consideration, I insert both :
Translation from the PUDMA PURAN. 1. To Satyavarman, the sovereign of the whole earth, were borin
three sons; the eldest Sherma, then Charma, and thirdly,
Jyapeti by name. 2. They were all men of good morals, excellent in virtue and vir
tuous deeds, skilled in the use of weapons to strike with or to
be thrown, brave men, eager for victory in battle. 3.
But Satyavarman, being continually delighted with devout meditation, and seeing his sons fit for dominion, laid upon
them the burden of government.
a less degree of conviction than he actually possessed, as the tenor and terms of the passages which I have quoted indisputably prove. The sense in which it is to be understood, is that of manifestly; his reasoning plainly requires it.
4. Whilst le remained honouring and satisfying the gods, and
priests, and kine, one day, by the act of destiny, the king
having drunk mead, I. Became senseless, and lay asleep naked : then was he seen by
Charma, and by him were his two brothers called. 6. To whom he said, What now has befallen? In what state is this
our sire? By these two was he hidden with clothes, and
called to his senses again and again. 7. Having recovered his intellect, and perfectly knowing what had
passed, he cursed Charma, saying, Thou shalt be the servant
of servants. 8. And since thou wast a laughter in their presence, from laughter
shalt thou acquire a name. Then he gave to Sherma the wide
domain on the south of the snowy mountain. 9. And to Jyapeti he gave all on the north of the snowy mountain ;
but he by the power of religious contemplation, attained su
“ Now you will probably think (Sir William Jones says, addressing himself to the society) that even the conciseness and
simplicity of this narrative are excelled by the Mosaic relation “ of the same adventure; but whatever may be our opinion of the - old Indian style, this extract most clearly proves, that the Sa
tyavrata, or Satyavarman of the Purans was the same personage,
(as it has been asserted in a former publication) with the Noah “ of Scripture; and we consequently fix the utmost limit of Hindu
chronology; nor can it be with reason inferred from the identity “ of the stories, that the divine legislator borrowed any part of his “ work from the Egyptians; he was deeply versed, no doubt, in “ all their learning, such as it was; but he wrote what he knew to “ be truth itself, independently of their tales, in which truth was “ blended with fable, and their age was not so remote from the days