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The Bishop of St. ASAPH to Mr. JONES.
DEAR Sin, November*;.
You was prevented by Sir Joshua Reynolds in your land intentions of giving me the earliest notice of the honour you have done me. I believe Mr. Fox vvill allow me to say, that the honour of being elected into the Turks-Head Club is not inferior to that of being the representative of Westminster or Surry. The electors are certainly more disinterested, and I should say they were much better judges of merit, if they had not rejected Lord Camden and chosen me. I flatter myself with the hopes of great pleasure and improvement in such a society as you describe, which indeed is the only club of which I ever wished myself a member.
Though I am much flattered with hearing from you, I was delighted with the cause of your delaying to write. Your talents have found means, by their own weight, to open the way to public notice and employment, which could not long be shut against them. Your pleadings for the nephew against the daughter promise something very curious in the particulars of the case, which seems to call for great abilities to defend it.
I would not neglect the first opportunity of answering your very obliging letter, though it being early post day, I am forced to write in a greater hurry than I could wish,
I am, &c.
J. St. A.
After an interval of six years, we find Mr. Jones retracing his favourite haunts with the Arabian muses. He devoted the leisure
hours hours of the winter of 1780-1 to complete his translation of seven ancient poems of the highest repute in Arabia*. Literature, politics, professional studies and practice, all had a share of his attention; but the principial object of his hopes and ambition was the vacant seat on the bench in India, to which he looked forward with increasing anxiety. The marriage of Lord Althorpe with Miss Bingham, daughter of Lord Lucan, was too interesting an event to pass unnoticed by Mr. Jones; and he celebrated the nuptials of his friend in a very poetical ode, under the title of the Muse recalled^. This composition, the dictate of friendship, and offspring of genius, was written in the course of a few hours. His poetic talents were also exerted in a cause ever nearest to his heart, that of liberty: he re-strung the lyre of Alcaeus, and produced a short ode % in the
* At the beginning of the seventh century, the Arabic language was brought to a high degree of perfection, by a sort of poetical academy, that used to assemble at stated times in a place called Ocadh, where every poet produced his best composition, and was sure to meet with the applause that it deserved: the most excellent of these poems were transcribed in characters of gold upon Egyptian paper, and hung up in the Temple of Mecca, whence they were named Mozahebat, or golden, and Moallakat, or suspended: the poems of this sort were called Gasseidas or Eclogues, seven of which are preserved in our libraries, and are considered as the finest that were written before the time of Mohammed.
Essay on the Poelry of the Eastern nations. Works, vol. xiv. p. 535. It may be satisfactory to the reader who does not possess the works ef Si» Wm. Jones, to read his metrical imitation of a passage in the 4th Eclogue.
But ah I thou know'st not in what youthful play,
Our nights, beguil'd with pleasure, swam away;
Gay songs, and cheerful tales, deceiv'd the time,
And circling goblets made a tuneful chime;
Sweet was the draught, and sweet the blooming maid,
Who toueh'd her lyre beneath the fragrant shade;
We sipp'd till morning purpled every plain
The damsels slumber'd, but we sipp'd again;
The waking birds, that sung on every tree
Their early notes, were not so blythe as we.
i Works, vol. iv. f. 563. % Works, vol- iv. p. 571.
genuine genuine spirit of the patriot and poet, whom he imitated. These were his amusements. The result of his professional studies was an Essay on the Law of Bailments. He divided and treated the subject under the distinct heads of analysis, history, and synthesis; and intimates an intention, if the method used in this tract should be approved, and on the supposition of future leisure, to discuss in the same form every branch of English law, civil and criminal, private and public ; and he concludes the Essay with the following just and elegant reflections. M I
"The great system of jurisprudence, like that of the Universe, con"sists of many subordinate systems, all of which are connected by nice "links and beautiful dependencies ; and each of them, as I have fully "persuaded myself, is reducible to a few plain elements, either the wise "maxims of national policy and general convenience, or the positive "rules of our forefathers, which are seldom deficient in wisdom or "utility ; if Law be a. science, and really deserve so sublime a name, ** it must be founded on principle, and claim an exalted rank in the "empire of reason; but if it be merely an unconnected series of "decrees and ordinances, its use may remain, though its dignity be "lessened; and he will become the greatest lawyer who has the "strongest habitual, or artificial memory. In practice, law certainly "employs two of the mental faculties; reason in the primary invest: tigation of points entirely new, and memory, in transmitting the "reason of sage and learned men, to which our own ought invaria"bly to yield, if not from a becoming modesty, at least from a just "attention to that object, for which all laws are framed, and all so** cieties instituted, The Good or Mankind."
Nothing can more strongly evince the predilection of Mr. Jones for his professional studies, and his anxiety to acquire a knowledge of the general principles and practice of law, than a w'ork whiah he
undertook Undertook about ibis period, the translation of an Arabian poem on the Mohammedan law of succession to the property of intestates*. The subject of the original is dry, the diction obscure; it exhibits no rhetorical flowers, no poetical ornament; and even the partiality of Mr. Jones for Eastern literature could never have induced him to engage in a work of this nature, if he had not thought it connected with objects of information and utility. In the expectation of obtaining the situation of an Indian judge, this law tract probably recommended itself to his notice, as he could not but foresee that a knowledge of Mohammedan law would be essential to the performance of the duties of that station.
The reader will recollect how much the public attention was occupied in the year 1782, with the attempts to procure, by constitutional means, a reformation of parliament. It would have been surprising if Mr. Jones had remained an idle spectator on an occasion, which of all others was most interesting to his feelings. Led by his professional studies to an enthusiastic veneration for the principles of the constitution of his country, he was anxious that the form of it should in all respects correspond with them; "but, as the "form in a course of years is apt to deviate widely from the spirit, "it became (in his opinion) expedient almost every century to "restore its genuine purity and loveliness." These sentiments he expressed in a speech to the inhabitants of the counties of Middlesex and Surry, the cities of London and Westminster, and the borough of Southwark, assembled at the London Tavern on the 28th of May, 1782, to consider on the means of procuring a reformation of parliament. The first resolution adopted by the meeting, and in which he expressed his most sincere concurrence, was, that petitions ought to be prepared for a more complete representation of the people; and the position which he endeavoured to impress upon the
* Works, vol. iii. p. 489.
minds minds of his audience was this, that the spirit of our constitution requires a representation of the people, nearly equal, and nearly universal. This speech has long been before the public, and I shall therefore only notice his declaration in the advertisement prefixed lo it, that, " what offence the publication might give, either in part, or in the whole, was the last and least of his cares: his first and "greatest was to speak on all occasions what he conceived to be ** just and true;" and the conclusion, in which he tells his audience that " the people of England can only expect to be happy, and "most glorious, while they are the freest, and can only become the "freest, when they shall be the most virtuous and most enlightened "of nations." It was about the same period that he composed a very spirited ode, in imitation of Callistratus, which has appeared in a variety of periodical publications, and is published in his works*.
In the summer of this year, Mr. Jones again visited France, in the intention of proceeding thence to America. The object of this journey was professional, to procure the restitution of a very large estate of a client and friend, which had been attached by an order of the States, who had threatened the confiscation of the property, unless the owner appeared in person to claim it. This object ismentioned by Mr. Jones in his correspondence, and his own evidence will be conclusive against some surmises and insinuations, which were propagated respecting the motives of his intended journey. The irresolution of his friend, increased by indisposition, prevented the execution of the plan; and Mr. Jones, after having procured a passport from Franklin, the American minister at the court of France, returned to England through Normandy and Holland.
For other details relating to his life, during the years 1781 and 1782, I refer to his correspondence.
* Vol. iv. p. 573.