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was, however, soon discovered by the penetration of the physician, who after two or three days was called in to his assistance; but it had then advanced too far to yield to the efficacy of the medicines usually prescribed, and they were administered in vain. The progress of the complaint was uncommonly rapid, and terminated fatally on the 27th of April, 1794. On the morning of that day, his attendants, alarmed at the evident symptoms of approaching dissolution, came precipitately to call the friend who has now the melancholy task of recording the mournful event. Not a moment was lost in repairing to his house. He was lying on his bed in a posture of meditation; and the only sympton of remaining life was a small degree of motion in the heart, which after a few seconds ceased, and he expired without a pang or groan. His bodily suffering, from the complacency of his features and the ease of his attitude, could not have been severe; and his mind must have derived consolation from those sources where he had been in the habit of seeking it, and where alone, in our last moments, it can ever be found.
The deep regret which I felt at the time, that the apprehensions of the attendants of Sir William Jones had not induced them to give me earlier notice of the extremity of his situation, is not yet obliterated. It would have afforded me an opportunity of performing the pleasing but painful office, of soothing his last moments, and I should have felt the sincerest gratification in receiving his latest commands ; nor would it have been less satisfactory to the public, to have known the dying sentiments and behaviour of a man, who had so long and deservedly enjoyed so large a portion of their esteem and admiration.
An anecdote of Sir William Jones (upon what authority I know not) has been recorded ; that immediately before his dissolution, he retired to his closet, and expired in the act of adoration to his Creator, Such a circumstance would have been conformable to his prevail. ing habits of thinking and reflection : but it is not founded in fact; he died upon his bed, and in the same room in which he had remained from the commencement of his indisposition.
The funeral ceremony was performed on the following day with the honours due to his public station : and the numerous attendance of the most respectable British inhabitants of Calcutta, evinced their sorrow for his loss, and their respect for his memory.
If my success in describing the life of Sir William Jones has been proportionate to my wishes, and to my admiration of his character, any attempt to delineate it must now be superfluous. I cannot, however, resist the impulse of recapitulating in substance what has been particularly detailed in the course of this work.
In the short space of forty-seven years, by the exertion of rare intellectual talents, he acquired a knowledge of arts, sciences, and languages, which has seldom been equalled, and scarcely, if ever, surpassed. If he did not attain the critical proficiency of a Porson or Parr in Grecian literature; yet his knowledge of it was most extensive and profound, and entitled him to a high rank in the first class of scholars; while as a philologist, he could boast an universality in which he had no rival. His skill in the idioms of India, Persia, and Arabia, has perhaps never been equalled by any European ; and his compositions on Oriental subjects, display a taste which we seldom find in the writings of those who had preceded him in these tracts of literature*. The language of Constantinople was also familiar to him; and of the Chinese characters and tongue, he had learned enough to enable him to translate an ode of Confucius. In
* Amongst those who have latterly distinguished themselves by their Oriental learning, the late Reverend J. D. Carlyle, professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge, has displayed equal taste and erudition, in his elegant translation of Specimens of Arabian POETRY, published in 1796.
the modern dialects of Europe, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, he was thoroughly conversant, and had perused the most admired writers in those languages. I might extend the list, by specifying other dialects which he understood, but which he had less perfectly studied*.
But mere philology was never considered by Sir William Jones as the end of his studies, nor as any thing more than the medium through which knowledge was to be acquired; he knew, that “ words “ were the daughters of earth, and things the sons of heaven,” and would have disdained the character of a mere linguist. In the little sketch of a treatise on Education, which has been inserted in these Memoirs, he describes the use of language, and the necessity of acquiring the languages of those people who in any period of the world have been distinguished by their superior knowledge, in order to add to our own researches the accumulated wisdom of all ages and nations. Accordingly, with the keys of learning in his possession, he was qualified to unlock the literary hoards of ancient and modern
* The following is transcribed from a paper in the hand-writing of Sir William Jones :
English, Latin, French, Italian,
Greek, Arabic, Persian, Sanscrit.
Spanish, Portuguese, Gerinan, Runick,
Hebrew, Bengali, Hindi, Turkish.
Tibetian, Pâli, Phalavi, Deri,
times, · times, and to display the treasures deposited in them, for the use, entertainment, or instruction of mankind. In the course of his labours, we find him elucidating the laws of Athens, India, and Arabia; comparing the philosophy of the Porch, the Lyceum, and Academy, with the doctrines of the Sufis and Bramins; and, by a rare combination of taste and erudition, exhibiting the mythological fictions of the Hindus in strains not unworthy the sublimest Grecian bards. In the eleven discourses which he addressed to the Asiatic society, on the history, civil and natural, the antiquities, arts, sciences, philosophy, and literature of Asia, and on the origin and families of nations, he has discussed the subjects which he professed to explain, with a perspicuity which delights and instructs, and in a style which never ceases to please, where his arguments may not always convince. In these disquisitions, he has more particularly displayed his profound Oriental learning in illustrating topics of great importance in the history of mankind; and it is much to be lamented, that he did not live to revise and improve them in England, with the advantages of accumulated knowledge and undisturbed leisure*.
* Of these discourses, the subjects of the two first have been noticed in the Memoirs; the seven following, from the third to the ninth inclusive, are appropriated to the solution of an important problem, whether the five nations, viz. the Indians, Arabs, Tartars, Persians, and Chinese, who have divided amongst themselves, as a kind of inheritance, the vast continent of Asia, had a common origin, and whether that origin was the same that is generally ascribed to them.
To each of these nations a distinct essay is allotted, for the purpose of ascertaining, who they were, whence and when they came, and where they are now settled. The general media through which this extensive investigation is pursued, are, first, their languages and letters; secondly, their philosophy; thirdly, the actual remains of their old sculpture and architecture ; and, fourthly, the written memorials of their sciences and arts : the eighth discourse is allotted to the barderers, mountaineers, and islanders of Asia; and the ninth, on the origin and families of nations, gives the result of the whole enquiry.
A mere catalogue of the writings of Sir William Jones, would shew the extent and variety of his erudition; a perusal of them will prove,
To state all the information which is curious, novel, and interesting, in these discourses, would be nearly to transcribe the whole, and the very nature of them does not admit of a satisfactory abridgment; the conclusion adopted by Sir William Jones, may be given in his own words; but this without the arguments from which it is deduced, and the facts and observations on which those arguments are founded, must be imperfectly understood. I must therefore refer the reader, who is desirous of investigating the great problem of the derivation of nations from their parental stock, or, in other words, of the population of the world, to the discourses themselves; and in presenting him with a faint outline of some of the most important facts and observations contained in them, I mean rather to excite his curiosity than to gratify it.
I shall follow the discourses in the order in which they stand; and, to avoid unnecessary phraseology, I shall, as far as possible, use the language of Sir William Jones himself.
The first discourse, which is the third of the series in which they were delivered, begins with the HINDUS.
The civil history of the inhabitants of India, beyond the middle of the nineteenth century from the present time, is enveloped in a cloud of fables. Facts, strengthened by analogy, may lead us to suppose the existence of a primeval language in Upper India, which may be called Hindi, and that the Sanscrit was introduced into it, by conquerors from other kingdoms in some very remote age. The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either; yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs, and in the form of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which perhaps no longer exists. There is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothick and Celtick, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit ; and the old Persian might be added to the same family.
The Deb-nagari characters, in which the languages of India were originally written, are adopted with little variation in form, in more than twenty kingdoms and states, from the borders of Cashgar and Khoten, to the Southern extremity of the peninsula; and from the Indus to the river of Siam. That the square Chaldaic characters, in wbich most Hebrew books are copied, were originally the same, or derived from the same prototype, both with the Indian and Arabian characters, there can be little doubt; and it is probable that the Phænician, from which the Greek and Roman alphabets were formed, had a similar origin.