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have made a very favourable impression on his mind, and to have created a desire for a more intimate acquaintance with legal writers. Accordingly, on the 19th Sept. 1770, he was admitted a student of the Temple, and commenced his legal studies in conjunction with those more liberal pursuits which had hitherto been prosecuted by him with undivided assiduity. Of this change in his destination, he thus speaks in a letter to his friend Reviczki : “ On my late return to England, I found myself entangled, as it were, in a variety of important considerations. My friends, companions, relations, all attacked me with urgent solicitations to banish poetry and oriental literature for a time, and apply myself to oratory and the study of the law; in other words, to become a barrister, and pursue the track of ambition. Their advice, in truth, was conformable to my own inclinations ; for the only road to the highest stations in this country is that of the law, and I need not add how ambitious and laborious I am.” In another letter, written soon afterwards, and addressed to his friend Mr. Wilmot, the son of the chief justice of the common pleas, Sir J. Eardley Wilmot, he thus speaks of the commencement of his legal studies: “ I have just begun to contemplate the stately edifice of the laws of England
* The gather'd wisdom of a thousand years
if you will allow me to parody a line of Pope. I do not see why the study of the law is called dry and unpleasant; and I very much suspect, that it seems so to those only who would think any study unpleasant which required a great application of the mind and exertion of the memory. I have just read most attentively the two first volumes of Blackstone's Commentaries, and the two others will require much less attention. I am much pleased with the care he takes to quote his authorities in the margin, which not only give a sanction to what he asserts, but point out the sources to which the student may refer for more diffusive knowledge. I have opened
two common-place books, the one of the law, the other of oratory, which is surely too much neglected by our modern speakers. I do not mean the popular eloquence which cannot be tolerated at the bar ; but that correctness of style and elegance of method which at once pleases and persuades the hearer. But I must lay aside my studies for about six weeks, while I am printing my Grammar, from which a good deal is expected, and which I must endeavour to make as perfect as a human work can be. When that is finished, I shall attend the court of king's bench very constantly, and shall either take a lodging in Westminster, or accept the invitation of a friend in Duke-street, who has made an obliging offer of apartments.”
The unceasing activity of mind, and the ardent ambition which distinguished Mr. Jones at this period of his life, are manifested in a letter addressed by him to his friend Dr. Bennett. “ I have learned so much, seen so much, written so much, said so much, and thought so much, since I conversed with you, that, were I to attempt to tell half what I have learned, seen, writ, said, and thought, my letter would have no end. I spend the whole winter in attending the public speeches of our greatest lawyers and senators, and in studying our own admirable laws, which exhibit the most noble example of human wisdom that the mind of man can contemplate. I give up my leisure hours to a political treatise on the Turks, from which I expect some reputation ; and I have several objects of ambition which I cannot trust to a letter, but will impart to you when we meet. If I stay in England, I shall print my De Poesi Asiaticâ next summer, though I shall be at least two hundred pounds out of pocket by it. In short, if you wish to know my occupations, read the beginning of Middleton's Cicero, p. 13–18, and you will see my model ; for I would willingly lose my head at the age of sixty if I could pass a life at all analogous to that which Middleton describes.”
* Parr's Works, vol, i. p. 55.
66 As to
The reputation which, even at this early age, Mr. Jones had gained by his literary efforts, was adverse, in his own opinion at least, to his success at the bar. Speaking of the publication of his poems, in a letter addressed to his friend Mr. Hawkins, he saysthe years in which the poems were written, I would wish to specify them, for it would hurt me as a student at the bar to have it thought that I continue to apply myself to poetry; and I mean to insinuate, that I have given it up for several years, which I must explain more fully in the preface : for a man who wishes to rise in the law must be supposed to have no other object.” In the year 1772, the poems of which he speaks, consisting principally of translations from the Asiatic languages, were published ; and, in 1774, he gave to the world his cele brated Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry.
In January, 1774, he was called to the bar, and devoted himself to his profession with much earnestness. Entirely abandoning his politer studies, he left the whole of his library, not relating to law and oratory, at Oxford. In a letter, written in the autumn of 1774, he says, “ I have deserted, or rather suspended, all literary pursuits whatever, and am wholly engaged in the study of a profession for which I was always intended. As the law is a jealous science, and will not have any partnership with the eastern Muses, I must absolutely renounce their acquaintance for ten or twelve years to come." Notwithstanding this abandonment of literature as an occupation, Mr. Jones continued his correspondence with various learned men both at home and abroad, whose letters evince the high sense which the writers entertained of his great acquirements and extensive learning.
For a short time after he was called to the bar, Mr. Jones appears to have declined practice, probably from an idea that he had not yet sufficiently perfected himself in his professional studies. Regarding the law as a science, he commenced the study of it on a wide and liberal scale. He compared the systems of ancient times with those of modern adoption, and with infinite labour
he examined and collated the various codes of modern Europe. In the year 1775, for the first time, he attended the circuit and sessions at Oxford, and in the course of the same year he became a regular attendant at Westminster-hall. In the following year, he received, without solicitation, the appointment of one of the commissioners of bankrupt, by the gift of Lord Chancellor Bathurst, to whom, in the dedication of his translation of Isæus, he acknowledges his obligation in the following terms: “I check myself, therefore, my lord, with reluctance, and abstain from those topics, to which the overflowing of my zeal would naturally impel me; but I cannot let slip this opportunity of informing the public, who have hitherto indulgently approved and encouraged my labours, that although I have received many signal marks of friendship from a number of illustrious persons, to whose favours I can never proportion my thanks, yet your lordship has been my greatest, my only benefactor; that, without any solicitation, or even request, on my part, you gave me a substantial and permanent token of regard, which you rendered still more valuable by your obliging manner of giving it, and which has been literally the sole fruit that I have gathered from an incessant course of very painful toil; that your kind intentions extended to a larger field, and that you had even determined to reward me in a manner the most agreeable both to my inclinations and to the nature of my studies, if an event, which has procured an accession to your happiness, and could not but conduce to mine, had not prevented the full effects of your kindness.”
It appears from his correspondence, that, soon after he was called to the bar, Mr. Jones acquired considerable practice. In a letter to Schultens, dated July, 1777, he says, “ I should have great pleasure in complying with your kind and friendly request, by furnishing my contribution to the new work which is soon to appear amongst you, and would exert myself to this purpose; but the absolute want of leisure makes it impossible. My law employments, attendance in the courts, incessant
studies, the arrangement of pleadings, trials of causes, and opinions to clients, scarcely allow me a few moments for eating and sleeping.” So close was his application, that, at the conclusion of the year, he was compelled to visit Bath, in order to refresh his exhausted spirits, where, as he informs his friend Lord Althorpe, “he abstained with reluctance from dancing, an amusement too heating for a water-drinker."
Amongst the mixed legal and classical studies in which Mr. Jones so much delighted, he had made a version of the orations of Isæus, which had hitherto been seldom read and imperfectly understood. This translation, which appeared in 1778, was accompanied by a preface, in which we find the following excellent observations on the benefits to be derived by a student of the law from an examination of the judicial polity of other nations:-" There is no branch of learning from which a student of the law may receive a more rational pleasure, or which seems more likely to prevent his being disgusted with the dry elements of a very complicated science, than the history of the rules and ordinances by which nations eminent for wisdom and illustrious in arts have regulated their civil polity: nor is this the only fruit he may expect to reap from a general knowledge of foreign laws, both ancient and modern; for while he indulges the liberal curiosity of a scholar in examining the customs and institutions of men, whose works have yielded him the highest delight, and whose actions have raised his admiration, he will feel the satisfaction of a patriot in observing the preference due in most instances to the laws of his own country above those of all other states ; or, if his just prospects in life give him hopes of becoming a legislator, he may collect many useful hints for the improvement even of that fabric which his ancestors have erected with infinite exertions of virtue and genius, but which, like all human systems, will ever advance nearer to perfection, and ever fall short of it.”
The acquirements of Mr. Jones in oriental literature, and his want of fortune, induced him at an early period