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we are informed, in “ the candor and complacency with which he gave his attention to all persons of whatever quality, talents, or education; for it was a conclusion and a principle with him, that curious and important information might be gained even from the illiterate ; and wherever it was to be found, he sought and seized it." For his modesty, I would only refer to the epitaph, in a subsequent page, which he wrote for himself but a short time before his premature dissolution ; and for his fine constitutional humanity one proof will be amply sufficient. One day, when addressing the Asiatic Society in Bengal, of which he was the origin and the president, when he came to their researches into the animal kingdom, he began in the following style:
"Could the figure, instincts, and qualities of birds, beasts, insects, reptiles, and fish, be ascertained, either on the plan of Buffon, or on that of Linnæus, without giving pain to the objects of our examination, few studies would afford us more solid instruction, or more exquisite delight; but I never could learn by what right, nor conceive with what feelings, a naturalist can occasion the misery of an innocent bird, and leave its young, perhaps, to perish in a cold nest, because it has gay plumage, and has never been accurately delineated; or deprive even a butterfly of its natural enjoyments, because it has the misfortune to be rare or beautiful: nor shall I ever forget the couplet of Fordausi, for which Sadi, who cites it with applause, pours blessings on his departed spirit:
Ah! spare yon emmet, rich in hoarded grain ;
This may be only a confession of weakness, and it certainly is. not meant as a boast of peculiar sensibility; but whatever name may be given to my opinion, it has such an effect on my conduct, that I never would suffer the cocila, whose wild native wood-notes announce the approach of spring, to be caught in my garden, for the sake of comparing it with Buffon's description ; though I have often examined the domestic and engaging Mayana, which 'bids us good
morrow' at our windows, and expects, as its reward, little more than security. Even when a fine young Manis or Pangolin was brought to me, against my wishes, from the mountains, I solicited his restoration to his beloved rocks, because I found it impossible to preserve him in comfort at a distance from them."
Eleven years of his short life Sir William Jones spent in the capacity of a judge at Calcutta, where the inflexible integrity with which he discharged the solemn duties of the station, will be long remembered both by Europeans and natives. Sơ 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 members of administration in India, to advance the private interests of friends whom he esteemed, and which he would have been happy to promote.”
All that has already been said, though it might place this individual far above most other men, would, alas ! avail but little or nothing, could we not add something
But surely our esteem for such a man cannot fail to rise much higher, when we see him, after a dispassionate and careful examination of the Sacred Volume, record his sentiments in the following terms, written with his own hand, on the leaf at the end of 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 written.'
Nor did he confine these sentiments to his own bosom, or record them only in his closet. Upon another sion, in 1791, when addressing the Asiatic Society of Bengal, though theological subjects formed no part of the subject immediately before him, we hear him saying,
“ I cannot refrain from adding, that the collection of tracts, which we call, from their excellence, the Scriptures, contain, itidependently of a divine origin, more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of poetry and eloquence, than could be collected, within the same compass, from all other books that were 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 compositions 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 inspired."
In matters of eternal concern, the authority of the highest human opinions has no claim to be admitted, except as it may be opposed to that of men of inferior learning and penetråtion ; and even after these sentiments, so finely expressed, I by no means represent him as equally eminent for Christianity, in the proper sense of the word, as he was for other attainments. As he might have been so, so I wish he had ; but in early life, at least, he was inclined to form his character too much after some of the ancient Romans, especially Cicero; and his researches, too, so far as revealed religion is concerned, bring him forward mainly as a witness of profound acquirements against the unbeliever. Few men in our world can examine, and analyze, and meet the learned, though frivolous, objections of the skeptic as he could :
It is, however, truly gratifying, and in no common degree, to see such a man thus explore so vastly, and then subscribe with his hand to the truth of the sacred record, as well as publicly attest it in the presence of men so eminent for learning, both Asiatic and European. It is
equally interesting to see him at another time with the records of unbelieving nations in his hand, trace back, to the very spot to which the Scriptures refer, the origin of diverging tribes and discordant languages; to see him correcting their contradictory and absurd chronology, by the light of divine revelation; and with especial reference to those Scriptures, at which other men, though eminent, but of inferior attainment, have sneered, to hear him, after one of the largest surveys which has perhaps ever been taken by one man, pronounce them to be the very “Key of Knowledge.”
At the same time, while the learning of Sir William Jones certainly gave some improper tincture to his religion; on the other hand, his views on that subject had such great power as even to sway him in the direction of all his learned investigations. After the elucidation and confirmation of divine truth, he was therefore, in mature life especially, often in pursuit; nay, amidst these very researches, one can see, at the same time, that the state and the destiny of his own immortal soul occupied the grave
attention of his retired moments. Nearly ten years before his dissolution, in 1784, we find him, during indisposition, using the following prayer:"O thou Bestower of all good ! if it please thee to continue my easy tasks in this life, grant me strength to perform them as a faithful servant; but if thy wisdom hath willed to end them by this thy visitation, admit me, not weighing my unworthiness, but through thy mercy declared in Christ, into thy heavenly mansions, that I may continually advance in happiness, by advancing in true knowledge and awful love of thee. Thy will be done !"
These, as well as other expressions, uttered in private, certainly give additional weight to his avowed opinions ; while, as an appropriate conclusion to this very imperfect
sketch, in the following epitaph it will be seen that he is modestly silent upon all his intellectual attainments :
"Here was deposited
the mortal part of a man,
with an ardor
and who, having devoted
resigned it calmly,
in the year of our blessed Redeemer,
Now, to whom was Sir William Jones almost exclusively indebted, in his most important, because his earliest years, for all his future eminence? Who was it that bent the twig, or taught the young idea how to shoot ? Who was it, that, to his incessant importunities for information on casual topics of conversation, and which were so watchfully stimulated, used then kindly and constantly to reply “ Read, and you will know ?” Who was it that culti.
* See the life of Sir William Jones, by Lord Teignmouth, and the Christian Observer for 1804, vol. iii.