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"knew any master equal to him; and his cheerfulness and sweet"ness were such, that it is difficult to say, whether he was most u agreeable to his friends or his pupils. In Greek and Latin litera"ture he was deeply versed: and although, like Socrates, he wrote ** little himself, no one had more acuteness or precision in correcting "the faults, or in pointing 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 elpquence with the ablest "orators of his own country, where only this art is successfully "cultivated. For if he did not possess all the qualities of an ** orator in perfection, he had each of them in a great degree. u His voice was clear and distinct, his style polished, his expression "fluent, his wit playful, and his memory tenacious; his eyes, his. "countenance, his action, in short, were rather those of a Deu mosthenes 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 education 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 eiilogium exaggerated, and must read with pleasure a testimony, which their own recollection confirms*.'
* The following epitaph, said to be composed by Dr. Parr, is inscribed on the monument of Dr. Sumner, at Harrow on the Hill:
H. S. E.
The dedication of his Commentaries to the University of Oxford, which he pronounced "would be the most illustrious of all uni"versities, as long as she remained the most free," was a pleasing proof of his gratitude to his alma mater; and he concludes the preface with some animated thoughts, which I shall endeavour to
Fuit huic praestantissimo viro
In sermone, facetiarum lepos, planS
Et gravitate insuper aspersa urbanitas;
vel magistro usi,
convey, convey, with the full consciousness, at the same time, of the imperfection of my attempt.
"Whether this work will please the French, or their admirers, "is to me of little concern, provided it prove acceptable to my "country, and to that renowned University, in which I received "my education; with a view to the honour of both, these Com"mentaries were undertaken and completed; nor is there any "wish so near to my heart, as that all my labours, past or future, "may be useful and agreeable to them. I lament, indeed, the "necessity which compels me to renounce the pursuit of polite "literature: but why do I say, lament? let me rather rejoice, that "I am now entering upon a career, which will supply ampler and "better opportunities of relieving the oppressed, of assisting the "miserable, and of checking the despotic and tyrannical.
"If I am asked, who is the greatest man? I answer the best: "and if I am required to say, who is the best? I reply, he that "has deserved most of his fellow-creatures. Whether we deserve "better of mankind by the cultivation of letters, by obscure and "inglorious attainments, by intellectual pursuits calculated rather "to amuse than inform, than by strenuous exertions in speaking "and acting, let those consider who bury themselves in studies un"^productive of any benefit to their country or fellow-citizens. I "think not. 1 have been long enough engaged in preparatory exer"ciscs, and I am now called to the field. What my fortune may "be, I know not; this, however, I know, that the most anxious "object of my heart is, after having run my career, to retire, in "advanced life, to the ever-beloved retreat of the University; not "with a view to indulge myself in indolence, which my disposition "abhors, but to enjoy a dignified leisure in the uninterrupted cul
"tivation "tivation of letters, which the profession I. am preparing to "embrace, no longer suffers me to pursue/'
At the conclusion of the Commentaries, we find an elegant address to the Muse, in which Mr. Jones expresses his determination to renounce polite literature, and devote himself entirely to the study of the law. He was called to the Bar, in January 1774, and had discovered, as he writes to an intimate friend, that the law was a jealous science, and would admit no partnership with the Eastern muses. To this determination he appears to have inflexibly adhered for some years, notwithstanding the friendly remonstrances and flattering invitations of his learned correspondents. He had about this time an intention of publishing the mathematical works of his father, and with this view circulated proposals; but, for what reason I know not, he abandoned it.
I now revert to his correspondence, of which I repeat my regret that so little remains.
Dr. HUNT to Mr. JONES.
DEAR SIR, Ch. Church, March 2, 1774.
I return you my hearty thanks for your most acceptable present of your excellent book on the Asiatic poetry. I should have made you my acknowledgments for this great favour before, but I have been so entirely engaged in reading the book (which I have done from the beginning to the end) that I have not had time to think of its worthy author any otherwise, than by tacitly admiring, as I went along, his exquisitely fine parts, and wonderful learning. Indeed, so engaging is the beautiful style of this admirable performance, and so striking the observations it contains, that it is next to impossible for a person, who has any taste for this branch of literature, when he has once taken it
into into his hand, to lay it aside again without giving it a thorough perusal. I find you have enriched this work with a great variety of curious quotations, and judicious criticisms, as well as with the addition of several valuable new pieces, since you favoured me with the sight of it before, and the pleasure which I have now had in reading it has been in proportion. I hope this new key to the Asiatic poetry, with which you have obliged the world, will not be suffered to rust for want of use; but that it will prove, what you intended it to be, an happy instrument in the hands of learned and inquisitive men, for unlocking the rich treasures of wisdom and knowledge which have been preserved in the Hebrew, Arabic, Persic, and the other Oriental languages, and especially the Hebrew, that venerable channel, through which the sacred compositions of the divinely inspired poets have been conveyed down to us.
I hope this will find you well, and am, &c.
P. S. I have seen your proposals for printing the mathematical works of my worthy friend, your late father, and beg to be of the number of your subscribers.
* Mr. JONES to F. P. BAYER.
I have received a most elegant copy of your Treatise on the Phoenician Language and Colonies, and I am at a loss to decide whether it is most learned or entertaining. Although I fear, like Diomede, that I shall give you brass in exchange for your gold; yet I send you, as a proof of my gratitude and esteem, my Commentaries on Asiatic Poetry; and it will afford me great satisfaction to learn that they please you.—Farewell.
* Appendix, No. 23.