Page images

ly; from that period to 1773, only occasionally. In the Easter term of that year, during the Encænia, he took his master's degree. It was on this occasion, that he composed an oration with an intention, which he did not execute, of speaking it in the Theatre. The speech was published ten years after, and exhibits a striking memorial of independent principles, and well-cultivated abilities :—to vindicate learning from the malevolent aspersion of being destructive of manly spirit, unfavourable to freedom, and introductive to slavish obsequiousness; to support the honour and independence of learned men, to display the transcendant advantages of the University of Oxford,-were the topics, which he had proposed to discuss, but on which the limits prescribed to his oration, forbad him to expatiate.

The animation of his language shews, that these topics were ever near his heart; an ardent love of liberty, an enthusiastic veneration for the University, a warm and discriminate eulogium on learned

who devoted their talents and labours to the cause of religion, science, and freedom, characterize his discourse; of which, part has been lately quoted with applause by Dr. Parr*,

The kindness of a contemporary student has communicated an anecdote in proof of his particular aversion to the logic of the schools, that, in an oration which he pronounced in University Hall, he declaimed violently against Burgersdicius, Cra* Notes to Spital Sermon, p. 136.



canthorpius, and the whole body of logicians in the College of Queen Philippa, his opposite neighbour. Of his uncommon industry, many proofs might be enumerated, and among others the copying of several Arabic manuscripts, of which one was the entertaining romance of Bedreddin Hassan, ur, Aladdin's Lamp, from a most elegant specimen of Arabian calligraphy,

Nor was lie less remarked for an affectionate attention to his mother and sister, who resided at Oxford ; such portion of his time as he could spare from his studies was given to their society, and duing his occasional absence from the University, he was regular in his correspondence with his mother.

We may conceive and participate the delight of a fond parent, contemplating the increasing reputation of her son ; she now found her maternal care and anxiety repaid in a degree equal to her most sanguine expectations, and her affection rewarded by a full measure of filial duty and gratitude. The progress of the virtues is not always in proportion to literary improvement; and learning, which ought to meliorate the affections, and strengthen the principles of duty, has been known to distort the mind by pride, and engender arrogance. In Mr. Jones, we have the pleasure to see every moral principle promoted and invigorated by his literary attainments.

In the commencement of 1774, he published his Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry. This work was received with admiration and applause by the


Oriental scholars of Europe in general, as well as by the learned of his own country. It was perhaps the first publication on Eastern literature, which had an equal claim to elegance and erudition. This work was begun by Mr. Jones in 1766, and finished in 1769, when he was in his twentythird year: but with the same solicitude which he had exhibited on other occasions, to lay his compositions before the public in the greatest possible perfection, he had repeatedly submitted the manuscript to the examination and critical remarks of his learned friends. Their approbation of it was liberal and general: but the opinion of Dr. Parr on any subject of literature is decisive, and I select from a letter which he wrote to Mr. Jones in 1769, some passages, in which he expresses his admiration of the work.

“I have read your book De Poësi Asiaticâ with all the attention that is due to a work so studiously designed, and so happily executed. The “observations are just and curious, and equally " free from indiscriminate approbation, licentious

censure, and excessive refinement. Through the "hurry of the first composition, the same expres"sion frequently occurs, and sentences begin in " the same manner, and now and then two words are improperly combined. “ These inaccuracies are very rare, and very trifling. On the whole, there is a purity, an ease, an elegance in the style, which shew an accurate and most perfect knowledge of the

- Latin

“ Latin tongue. Your Latin translations in verse

gave me great satisfaction. I am uncommonly “ charmed with the idyllium, called Chrysis. “ The flow of the verses, the poetic style of the “ words, and the elegant turn of the whole poem, " are admirable.

“On the whole, I have received infinite enter"tainment from this curious and learned perform

ance, and I look forward with pleasure, to the great honour such a publication will do our country.”

It will readily be supposed, that, in the interval between the date of the letter and the publication of the Commentaries, Mr. Jones had not neglected to make the corrections suggested by the criticisms of his learned correspondent; and that such further emendations were adopted, as the growing maturity of his own judgment pointed out.

In the preface to the Commentaries, Mr. Jones mentions and laments the death of Dr. Sumner, in terms which strongly mark his affection for the memory of his respected friend and instructor, who died in September 1771 :

“There never was a man more worthy of being “ remembered, for his talents, integrity, admirable

disposition, amiable manners, and exquisite learning; in the art of instructing, I never knew

any master equal to him; and his cheerfulness “ and sweetness were such, that it is difficult to say, “ whether he was most agreeable to his friends or "his pupils. In Greek and Latin literature he


[ocr errors]

was deeply versed : and although, like Socrates, he “ wrote little himself, no one bad more acuteness “or precision in correcting the faults, or in point

ing out the beauties of others; so that if fortune or the course of events, instead of confining his “ talents to a school, had placed him at the bar,

or in the senate, he would have contested the

prize of eloquence with the ablest orators of “ his own country, where only this art is success

fully cultivated. For if he did not possess all the

qualities of an orator in perfection, he had each “ of them in a great degree. His voice was clear "and distinct, his style polished, his expression " Nuent, his wit playful, and his memory tena"cious; his eyes, his countenance, his action, in

short, were rather those of a Demosthenes than " of an ordinary speaker; in short, we may say of " him what Cicero said of Roscius, that whilst he “ seemed the only master qualified for the educa“tion of youth, he seemed at the same time, the

only orator capable of discharging the most important functions of the state.”

Those who had the good fortune to receive their tuition under Dr. Sumner, will not think this eulogium exaggerated, and must read with pleasure a testimony, which their own recollection confirms*.

The * The following cpitaph, said to be composed by Dr. Parr, is inscribed on the monument of Dr. Sumner, at Harrow on the Hill:

H. S. E.
Coll. Regal. apud. Cantab. olim socius;
Scholæ Harroviensis, haud ita pridem,


« PreviousContinue »