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reserve had hitherto proved impenetrable. To surmount these oba stacles, to subdue the jealousy and prejudices of the Bramins, and to diminish the apprehensions of the people at large, required a conduct regulated by the most liberal and equitable principles, and the influence of personal intercourse and conciliation. The compilation of a code of laws by Pundits, convened by the invitation of Mr. Hastings, the Persian version of it, made under their immediate inspection, and the translation of the Bagvhat Geeta, a work containing all the grand mysteries of the Braminical Faith, are incontrovertible proofs of the success of his efforts, to inspire confidence in minds where distrust was habitual, while a variety of useful publications, undertaken at his suggestion, demonstrate the beneficial effects of his patronage and encouragement of Oriental literature.
Amongst the original members of the society, who subscribed the address to the Governor-General and Council, proposing the institution, will be found the names of several who have distinguished themselves by their proficiency in Oriental learning; of Mr. William Chambers, whose knowledge of the dialects on the coast of Coromandel, as well as of Persian and Arabic literature, was critical and extensive, and his least praise ; of Mr. Francis Gladwyn, the author of many works calculated to assist the students of the Persian language, the translator of various Oriental manuscripts, and particularly of the institutes of Akbar, the wisest, greatest, and most tolerant monarch, that ever swayed the sceptre of India* ; of Captain Charles Hamilton, who published a translation of the Hedaiya, a code of Mohammedan laws, which has been found of great use in the administration of justice in Bengal; and of Charles Wilkins, Esquire, the first Englishman who acquired a critical knowledge of the language of the Bramins, and who, by the application of rare talents and industry, by his own personal exertions, invented and cast types of the Debnagree, Persic, and Bengalese characters, in such perfection, that no succeeding attempts have exhibited any improvement upon his labours. Of these names, two only survive.
* The toleration of Akbar, and his curiosity to investigate the religious tenets of other nations, have exposed him to the charge of heresy amongst the Mohammedans in general. In a collection of his letters, published by his learned minister Ab-ul-fuzl, there is one addressed to the king of Portugal, in which he censures in the strongest terms, the slavish
propensity propensity of mankind, to adopt the religious principles of their fathers and those amongst whom they have been brought up, without evidence or investigation ; he avows his own pleasure and profit, in conversing with the learned professors of different persuasions, and desires that some person of that character, conversant in the Oriental and European languages, may be sent to him. He also requests translations of the heavenly books, the Pentateuch, Psalms, and Gospels, or of any others of general utility.
The loss of Mr. Chambers must be particularly lamented, by all who feel an interest in communicating a knowledge of the doctrines of salvation, to the natives of India. In an early period of life he saw and felt the truth and importance of the Christian Religion, and while his own conduct exhibited the strength of his conviction, he thought it a duty to employ his talents and acquirements in dis·seminating amongst the untaught natives a knowledge of that faith, which he regarded of supreme and universal importance. In this view, he determined to undertake a translation of the New Testament into Persian, and devoted all his leisure to the performance of this task, with the most zealous solicitude to make it accurate; but he had not completed half the Gospel of St. Matthew, when it pleased Providence to call him out of this life.
In a code of instructions, specifically addressed to the officers of his empire, I find the two following passages :
“ Do not molest mankind on account of their religious principles. If in the affairs of “ this world, which are transitory and perishable, a prudent man is guided by a regard to “ his interest ; still less, in spiritual concerns, which are eternal, whilst he retains his " senses, will he adopt what is pernicious. If truth be on his side, do not oppose it and “ molest him ; but if it be with you, and he from want of understanding should have im“ bibed erroneous notions, ignorance is his malady, and he is to be considered an object “ of your compassion and assistance, not of molestation and severity. Keep on good “ terms with the upright and virtuous of all persuasions.
“ The best adoration, which man in this world can pay to his Maker, is duly to ad“ minister the affairs of his creatures, discarding passion and affection, and without dis“ tinction of friend or foe, relation or stranger.”
Such, amongst others, were the original members of the society formed at Calcutta, for enquiring into the history, antiquities, the natural productions, arts, sciences, and literature of Asia, under the patronage of Sir William Jones, who at the first meeting after the institution was completed, in his capacity of president, unfolded, in an elegant and appropriate address, the objects proposed for their researches, and concluded with a promise, which he amply discharged, of communicating the result of his own studies and enquiries.
That he might be qualified to perform this promise, in a manner worthy his high reputation, as well as from more commanding motives, he determined to commence without loss of time the study of the Sanscrit. His reflection had before suggested, that a knowledge of this ancient tongue would be of the greatest utility, in enabling him to discharge with confidence and satisfaction to himself, the duties of a judge; and he soon discovered, what subsequent experience fully confirmed, that no reliance could be placed on the opinions or interpretations of the professors of the Hindu law, unless he were qualified to examine their authorities and quo. tations, and detect their errors and misrepresentations. On the other hand, he knew that all attempts to explore the religion or literature of India, through any other medium than å knowledge of the Sanscrit, must be imperfect and unsatisfactory; it was evi
dent, dent, that the most erroneous and discordant opinions on these subjects, had been circulated by the ignorance of those who had collected their information from oral communications only, and that the pictures exhibited in Europe, of the religion and literature of India, could only be compared to the maps constructed by the natives, in which every position is distorted, and all proportion violated. As a lawyer, he knew the value and importance of original documents and records, and as a scholar and man of science, he disdained the idea of amusing the learned world, with secondary information on subjects which had greatly interested their curiosity, when he had the means of access to the original sources. He was also aware, that much was expected by the literati in Europe, from his superior abilities and learning, and he felt the strongest inclination to gratify their expectations in the fullest possible extent.
Of his time he had early learned to be a rigid economist *, and he frequently regretted the sacrifices of it, which custom or ceremony extorted. An adherence to this principle, while it restrained in some degree his habits of social intercourse, necessarily limited
* As a proof of the strict regularity of Sir William Jones in the application of his time, the reader is presented with a transcript of a card in his own writing. It contains, indeed, the occupations wbich he had prescribed to himself in a period of the following year; but may serve as a sample of the manner in which he devoted his leisure hours at all times.
Ten chapters of the Bible.
Hindu Law, &c.
his correspondence with his friends. From the few letters which he wrote, I shall now select such, as describe his feelings, thoughts, and occupations, a few months only after his arrival in Bengal.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to Mr. Justice HYDE.
Friday Evening, at the Chambers, Jan. 1784. Ramlochimd has raised' my curiosity by telling me, that when you had occasion to receive the evidence of some Mugs, they produced a book in strange square characters, which they called Zuboor. Now Zuboor is the name by which the Psalms of David are known in Asia. May not this book be the Psalms in old Hebrew or Samaritan, and the people a sect of Jews ? Can you give me any information on this head ?
Sir WILLIAM JONES to Mr. Justice HYDE.
Garden, May 14, 1784. Many thanks, my dear Sir, for your kind concern and attention. I was on the bridge by Col. Tolly's house in the midst of the storm, my horses mad with the fear of the lightning, and my carriage every moment in danger of being overset by the wind; I was wet to the skin, and saved from worse inconvenience by the diligence of my servants, who took off the horses and drew the carriage to a place of safety. I am nevertheless in good health ; but Lady Jones is not quite recovered from a severe cold and rheumatism, attended with a fever.
Remember that I am always ready to relieve you at the chambers in the Loll Bazar*, and will cheerfully take the labouring oar
* A house in Calcutta, where the puisné judges of the Supreme Court of Judicaturé attended by rotation in the evening, as justices of the peace.