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tic nations, ancient and modern, to those in Europe, who are blest with happier governments : he would see the Arabs rising to glory, while they adhered to the free maxims of their bold ancestors, and sinking to inisery from the moment when those maxims were abandoned. On the other hand, he would observe with regret, that such republican governments as tend to promote virtue and happiness, cannot in their nature be permanent, but are generally succeeded by oligarchies, which no good man would wish to be diirable. He would then, like the king of Lydia, remember Solon, the wisest, bravest, and most accomplished of men, who asserts, in four nervous lines, that, “ as hail and snow, which mar the labours of “ husbandmen, proceed from elevated clouds, and, as the destruc“ tive thunderbolt follows the brilliant flash, thus is a free state “ ruined by men exalted in power, and splendid in wealth, while " the people, from gross ignorance, choose rather to become the slaves “ of one tyrant, that they may escape from the domination of many, “ than to preserve themselves froin tyranny of any kind by their “ union and their virtues.” Since, therefore, no unmixed form of government could both preservė permanence and enjoy it; and since changes even from the worst to the best, are always attended with much temporary mischief, he would fix on our British constitution (I mean our public law, not the actual state of things in any given period), as the best form ever established, though we can only make distant approaches to its theoretical perfection. In these Indian territories, which Providence has thrown into the arms of Britain for their protection and welfare, the religion, manners, and laws of the natives preclude even the idea of political freedom; but their histories may possibly suggest hints for their prosperity, while ourcountry derives essential benefit from the diligence of a placid and submissive people, who multiply with such increase, even after the ravages of famine, that, in one collectorship out of twenty-four, and that by no means the largest or best cultivated (I mean Chrishna-nagur), there have
lately been found, by an actual enumeration, a million and three hundred thousand native inhabitants ; whence it should seem, that in all India, there cannot now be fewer than thirty millions of black British subjects.”
This quotation will prove, that he was not tainted with the wild theories of licentiousness, miscalled liberty, which have been propagated with unusual industry since the Revolution in France; and that whilst he was exerting himself to compile a code of laws, which should secure the rights and property of the natives of India (a labour to which he in fact sacrificed his life), he knew the absurdity and impracticability of attempting to introduce amongst them that political freedom, which is the birth-right of Britons, but the growth of ages. Of the French Revolution, in its commencement, he entertained a favourable opinion, and, in common with many wise and good men, who had not as yet discovered the foul principle from which it sprang, wished success to the struggles of that nation for the establishment of a free constitution ; but he saw with unspeakable disgust, the enormities which sprang out of the attempt, and betrayed the impurity of its origin. Things ill begun, strengthen themselves with ill. We may easily conceive, and it is unnecessary to state, what the sentiments of Sir William Jones would have been, if he had lived to this time.
If the political opinions of Sir William Jones, at any period, have been censured for extravagance ; let it be remembered, that he adopted none, but such as he firmly believed to arise out of the principles of the constitution of England; and as such he was ever ready, to avow and defend them. His attachment to liberty was certainly enthusiastic, and he never speaks of tyranny or oppression; but in the language of detestation : this sentiment, the offspring of generous feelings, was invigorated by his early acquaintance with
the republican writers of Greece and Rome, and with the works of the most celebrated political writers of his own country; but the whole tenour of his life, conversation, and writings, proves to my conviction, that he would have abandoned any opinion, which could be demonstrated irreconcileable to the spirit of the constitution.
With these principles, he ever refused to enlist under the banners of any party, which he denominated faction, and resisted the influence of private friendships and attachments, whenever they involved a competition with his regard to the constitution of his country. These sentiments may be traced in his correspondence and publications, and they are sometimes accompanied with expressions of regret arising from the impossibility of reconciling his political principles, to the bias of his inclinations towards individuals.
The latest political publication of Sir William Jones, is prior to the year 1783. The temper of the nation, soured by a long and unsuccessful war, was displayed during the three preceding years, in the bitterest invectives and censures, both in and out of Parliament; and those who thought that the principles of the constitution had been invaded by the conduct of the Minister, supported by a majority in the House of Commons, looked to a reformation in the representation of the country, as the only means of restoring the balance of the constitution. The revolution which has since deformed the political state of Europe, was not then foreseen, and the experience founded on the consequences of the speculations which led to it, or have emerged from it, was to be acquired. In judging of the political opinions of Sir William Jones, and of the freedom with which they were published to the world, we should revert to the language and spirit of the times when they were delivered. It may be further remarked, that some political theories, which were held to be incontrovertible, bave of late years been questioned, and
that the doctrines of Locke on Government, which it would once have been heresy to deny, no longer command that implicit acquiescence, which they once almost universally received.
In the first charge which Sir William Jones delivered to the grand jury at Calcutta, he told them that lie aspired to no popularity, and sought no praise but that which might be given to a strict and conscientious discharge of duty, without predilection, or prejudice of any kind, and with a fixed resolution to pronounce on all occasions what he conceived to be the law, than which no individual must suppose himself wiser.
himself wiser. His conduct as a judge, was most strictly conformable to his professions : on the bench he was laborious, patient, and discriminating: his charges to the grand jury, which do not exceed six, exhibit a veneration for the laws of his country; a just and spirited encomium on the trial by jury, as the greatest and most invaluable right derived from them to the subject; a detestation of crimes, combined with mercy towards the offender; occasional elucidations of the law; and the strongest feelings of humanity and benevolence. By his knowledge of the Sanscrit and Arabic, le was eminently qualified to promote the administration of justice in the Supreme Court, by detecting misrepresentations of the Hindu or Mohammedan laws, and by correcting impositions in the form of administering oaths to the followers of Brahma and Mohammed. If no other benefit had resulted from his study of these languages, than the coinpilation of the digest, and the translation of Menu and of two Mohammedan law-tracts, this application of his talents to promote objects of the first importance to India and Europe, would have entitled him to the acknowledgments of both countries. Of bis studies in general it may be observed, that the end which he always had in view, was practical utility; that knowledge was not accumulated by him, as a source of mere intellectual recreation, or to gratify an idle curiosity, or for the idler
purpose of ostentatiously
ostentatiously displaying his acquisitions; to render himself useful to his country and mankind, and to promote the prosperity of both, were the primary and permanent motives of his indefatigable exertions in the pursuit of knowledge.
The inflexible integrity with which he discharged the solemn duty of this station, will long be remembered in Calcutta, both by Europeans and natives. So cautious was he to guard the independence of his character from any possibility of violation or imputation, that no solicitation could prevail upon him, to use his personal influence with the meinbers of administration in India, to advance the private interests of friends whom he esteemed, and which he would have been happy to promote. He knew the dignity, and felt the importtance, of his office: and, convinced that none could afford him more ample scope for exerting his talents to the benefit of mankind, his ambition never extended beyond it. No circumstance occasioned his death to be more lamented by the public, than the loss of his abilities as judge, of which they had had the experience of eleven years.
When we consider the time required for the study of the law as a profession, and that portion of it, which was devoted by Sir William Jones to the discharge of his duties as judge and magistrate in India, it must appear astonishing, that he should have found leisure for the acquisition of his numerous attainments in science and literature, and for completing the voluminous works which have been given to the public. On this subject I shall, I trust, be excused for using, as I may find convenient, my own language in a discourse which I addressed to the Asiatic society a few days after his decease.
There were in truth few sciences in which he had not acquired considerable proficiency; in most, his knowledge was profound. The