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and fatigued me so much, that I was forced to hasten from Calcutta as fast as winds and oars could carry me. 1 am now at the ancient university of Nadeya, where I hope to learn the rudiments of that venerable and interesting language which was once vernacular in all India, and in both the peninsulas with their islands. Your pursuits must be delightful, and I shall be impatient to see the fruit of your learned labours. Our society goes on slowly; and hot-bed fruits are not so good to my taste as those which ripen naturally.
Dr. Koenig's loss will be severely felt; he was a valuable man, with as much simplicity as nature herself, whose works he studied. Do you know when his books are to be disposed of? I should wish to purchase his Linnaeus,
Sir WILLIAM JONES to CHARLES CHAPMAN, Esq.
I am proceeding slowly, but surely, in this retired place, in the study of Sanscrit; for I can no longer bear to be at the mercy of our pundits, who deal out Hindu law as they please, and make it at reasonable rates, when they cannot find it ready made. I annex the form adopted by us for the oaths of Mussulmans; you will in your discretion adopt or reject it, and if you can collect from Mahesa pundit, who seemed a worthy honest man, how Hindu witnesses ought to be examined, and whether the Bramins can give absolution (I think they call it pryarchitt) for perjury, and in what case, you will greatly oblige me, and contribute to the advancement of justice.
The conclusion of this letter expresses a sentiment, which, as a judge in Bengal, and friend of human nature, he always considered an object of the first importance.
The period of his residence at his country cottage, was necessarily limited by the duty of attending the supreme court: on his return to Calcutta, in October, he writes to John Macpherson, Esq. "Lady Jones, and myself, received much benefit from the dry soil "and pure air of Crishnagur; how long my health will continue "in this town, with constant attendance in court every morning, "and the irksome business of justice of peace in the afternoon, I ** cannot foresee. If temperance and composure of mind will "avail, I shall be well; but I would rather be a valetudinarian, "all my life, than leave unexplored the Sanscrit mine which I "have just opened.
"I have brought with me the father of the university of Nadya, "who, though not a Brahmin, has taught grammar and ethics to "the most learned Brahmins, and has no priestly pride, with "which his pupils in general abound."
In the year 1785, a periodical work was undertaken at Calcutta, under the title of the Asiatick Miscellany, which has been ignorantly ascribed to the Asiatick Society, with whose researches it had no connection. The title of the work indicates the nature of its contents, which consisted chiefly of extracts from books published in Europe, relating to India, of translations from Oriental Authors, and of poems and essays. The editor was occasionally assisted by the literary talents of gentlemen in India, and we find in the two first volumes, which were published in the years 1785 and 8fj, the following compositions of Sir William Jones, who never neglected any opportunity of contributing to the advancement of Oriental
M M literature: literature: the tale of the Enchanted Fruit, which has already been mentioned, six hymns* addressed to as many Hindu deities, a literal translation of twenty tales and fables of Nizami, expressly intended to assist the students of the Persian language, besides other smaller pieces, from which I quote with pleasure, the following beautiful tetrastick, which is a literal translation from the Persian:
On parent knees, a naked, new-born child,
The hymns, which are original compositions, are descriptive of the Hindu deities, to whom they were addressed, and a short introductory explanation accompanies each. The mythological allusions and Sanscrit names, with which they abound, are not sufficiently familiar to the English reader, to enable him to derive that pleasure from them, which those who are acquainted with the manners and mythology of the Hindus feel in the perusal of these hymns; but whilst they mark the taste and genius of the author, they supply a fund of information, equally novel and curious. We contemplate with delight and surprise the admirer of the Grecian bards, and the pupil of the Grecian sages, led by his enthusiasm from the banks of the Ilyssus to the streams of the Ganges, celebrating, in
'* In his hymn to Surya, or the Sun, Sir William Jones alludes to himself in the following beautiful lines:
And, if they ask what mortal pours the strain f
Say (for thou seest earth, air, and main),
Say, "From the bosom of yon silver isle,.
Where skies more softly smile,
He came; and lisping our celestial tongue.
Though not from Brahma sprung,
Draws orient knowledge, from its fountains pure>
Through caves obstructed long, and paths too long obscure."
strains strains not unworthy of Pindar, the fabulous divinities of India, and exploring the sources of the Egyptian and Persian theology, and of the tenets of the Ionic and Italic schools of philosophy. These compositions were the elegant amusements of hours of leisure and relaxation, which he never suffered to interfere with his public duties. They prove the versatility of those intellectual powers, which could immediately turn from the investigation of legal causes or the solution of abstruse mathematical problems, to explain and adorn the mythological fictions of the Hindus, in odes which the Bramins would have approved and admired. The variety of measures adopted in the composition of these hymns is remarkable; each of the nine* has a different form of versification, and if they are not all equally harmonious, they are all regular. The opening and conclusion of the Hymn to Narayon are very sublime.
On the second of February 1786, Sir William Jones delivered to the society his third annual discourse, in which he proposed to fill up the outlines delineated in his two former addresses, and promised, if the state of his health should permit him to continue long enough in India, to prepare for the annual meetings of the society, a series of short dissertations unconnected in their titles, but all leading to one common point of no small importance, in the pursuit of interesting truths. He exhibits, in this discourse, a proof of the successful application of his time to the study of Sanscrit, and speaks with increased confidence of the result of his new attainments. The conclusion expresses his regret, at the departure for Europe of the very ingenious member who first opened the mine of Sanscrit literature, an honourable tribute to the merit of Mr. Charles Wilkins.
Sir William had long proposed making an excursion toChatigan, the eastern limits of the British dominions in Bengal. Exclusively
* He wrote three more hymns afterwards.
Of of his anxiety to acquire, from local observation, a knowledge of the state of the country, and of the manners and characters of the natives, a prudent attention to the re-establishment of his health, which had suffered from an unremitted application to his public duties as judge and magistrate, as well as a regard for that of Lady Jones, now rendered the journey expedient. In the beginning of 1786, after the recess of the court, he had an opportunity of executing his plan, and repaired to Chatigan by sea, in February.
A short time before his departure, a discussion had taken place between the judges of. the supreme court of judicature, and the executive government of Bengal, respecting a resolution adopted by the latter, altering the mode in which the salaries of the judges had been paid. They remonstrated against the resolution, axnd the letter written by Sir William Jones to Sir J. Macpherson on the occasion, is so strongly characteristic of that independent spirit which he always possessed, that on this account it merits insertion. The remainder of his correspondence of this year, as far as it is proper to lay it before the public, follows in the order of its dates.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to Sir J. MACPHERSON, Bart.
MY DEAR SIR, Phiznix Sloop, Feb. S, 178&
Had I known where Captain Light* lived in Calcutta, I would not have troubled you with the annexed letter, but I must request you to forward it to him. It is an answer to an excellent letter from him, which I received near a twelvemonth ago. I anxiously hope he has completed (what no other European could begin) a version of the Siamese code.
* Captain Light was appointed superintendant of a new settlement at Penang, or Prince of Wales'* Island. He was thoroughly conversant in the Malay dialect.