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is less complete, although I have spared no diligence in endeavouring to collect all that could be obtained. I was in hopes that the recollection of his contemporaries at Oxford, where he occasionally resided until he left England, might have supplied some material anecdotes, and that farther information might have been procured from his companions in Westminster Hall, or on the Circuit, but my researches have had little success, and I am chiefly indebted to his correspondence for the information which I have been able to communicate.
In the arrangement of these materials, it was my wish, as far as possible, to make Sir William Jones describe himself; and with this view, I have introduced his letters into the body of the Memoirs.
They develop his occupations, hopes, pursuits, and feelings; and although the narrative, from the introduction of them, may lose something in point of connection, this inconvenience, I flatter myself, will be more than compensated by the letters themselves. By this mode they will excite an interest, which they might have failed to produce, if the substance or subjects of them only had been interwoven into the narrative, with a reference to the letters themselves in the Appendix.
This arrangement has however imposed upon me the necessity of translating many of the letters of Sir William Jones and his learned correspondents, from the Latin or French, and I have endeavoured to give the sense of them in a plain familiar style. But I must
warn the reader, that he is to expect nothing more in these translations, and that those who are qualified to peruse the original letters of Sir William Jones, will find in them an elegance which I do not pretend to transfuse into my version of them. Some few sentences of the original letters have been purposely omitted in the translation, and many passages of the originals. themselves have been suppressed.
The Latin letters of Sir William Jones are printed in the Appendix, and with respect to them it is further proper to observe, that in consequence of interlineations, corrections, erasures, and mutilation from time, I could not always ascertain the exact words which he ultimately adopted. In such cases I have been compelled to exercise my own judgment, and I desire the reader to notice this remark, lest any inaccuracy of mine should be imputed to a man, who was equally qualified to guide the taste of the elegant, and correct the errors of the learned.
To elucidate the life, occupations, and opinions of Sir William Jones, was the principal object which I had in view, in the selection of the letters now presented to the public ; some have been inserted, as calculated in my opinion to afford entertainment to the reader. I am very sensible that many of these letters relate to topics not generally interesting: engaged in literary pursuits from his earliest youth, extending and cultivating them with ardour during his life, and never losing sight of them under any accumulation of business, the letters of Sir William Jones necessarily refer to habits so dear to him, and so long established; and I must requcst the reader to carry this remark with him to the perusal of his correspondence throughout, and particularly of the letters written by him in Bengal, which frequently relate to Indian literature, as well as to subjects and occupations peculiar to that country.
The Memoirs and Appendix contain some original compositions of Sir William Jones, which have not hitherto been published; they are not of equal importance with those, of which the public are in possession; there are still more, which I have not ventured to print.
It would have been easy to have enlarged the size of this volume, but having no ambition to extend it beyond its proper limits, I have confined myself as closely as I could to the object of it, that of elucidating the life and opinions of Sir William Jones. With this rule constantly in my recollection, I have avoided dissertations on the events of the times ; the notice which I have taken of characters incidentally mentioned, is brief and explanatory only; and I have suppressed many observations, which would have added more to the bulk of the Memoirs, than to the information or entertainment of the reader.
I have now given such explanation on the subject of the Me. moirs, as appeared to me necessary; but I cannot conclude the
Preface, without mentioning some information which materially affects an important passage in the 367th page of the Memoirs, and which I received from Bengal, long after it had been printed:
The passage alluded to, is stated to be an exact translation from one of the mythological books of the Hindûs ; it first appeared in a note annexed by Sir William Jones, to an Essay on Egypt and the Nile, in the 3d vol. of the Asiatic Researches, by Lieutenant (now Captain). Wilford, and relates to Noah (under the designation of Satyavrata) and his three sons.
Captain Wilford has since had the mortification and regret to discover, that he was imposed upon by a learned Hinda, who assisted his investigations, that the Purana, in which he actually and carefully read the passage which he communicated to Sir William Jones, as an extract from it, does not contain it, and that it was interpolated by the dextrous introduction of a forged sheet, discoloured, and prepared for the purpose of deception, and which. having served this purpose, was afterwards withdrawn..
The uncommon anxiety of Captain Wilford' to re-examine all the authorities quoted in his essay, led to the detection of the imposition, and he immediately determined to publish it to the world, in another essay which he was then preparing, and which I understand to be now printing in Bengal. To guard against the effects of any accident which might prevent the execution of this determination, he communicated the circumstance to his friends, that it might eventually be made known to the public, and in the expla nation now submitted to them, I only anticipate the solicitude of Captain Wilford, to expose the imposition which has been practised on him*.
nation, “ To prerent my detecting those of the second class, which were not numerous, but “ of the greatest importance in their nature, (and as books in India are not bound as in
* The particulars of the imposition practised upon him by the pandit, whom he employed in making extracts from the books of the Hindûs, are detailed by Captain Wilford, in the introduction to a work now printing in Bengal, under the title of An ESSAY on the Sacred Isles in the West, with other Essays connected with that Work,
In the course of collating the Sanscrit authorities quoted or referred to, in this Essay;be discovered some discolorations in the manuscripts, which led to suspicions of deception, which examination fully verified. The discovery naturally excited an’ apprehension, that a similar imposition had been practised upon him, with respect to his former Essay on Egypt and the Nile, and he had the mortification to find it well grounded. His first step was to- inforın his friends of it, either verbally, or by letters, that he might secure at least the credit of the first disclosure.
“ The forgeries of the pandit, (Captain Wilford observes,) were of three kinds : in the first, a word or two only was allered. In the second, were such legends, as had undergone a more material alteration; and in the third, all those which he had written from memory.
“ With regard to those of the first class, when he found that I was resolved to make
collation of the manuscript, he began to adulterate and disfigure his own manuscript, “ mine, and the manuscripts of the college, by erasing the original name of the country, " and putting that of Egypt or of Swetam in its place.
Europe, and every leaf is loose,) he took out one or two leaves, and substituted others “ with an adulterous legend. In books of some antiquity, it is not uncommon to see a “ few new leaves inserted in the room of others that were wanting.
“ To conceal the more numerous impositions of the third class, he had the patience to ".. write-two voluminous sections, supposed to belong, one to the Scanda-Purana, and the W other to the Bramándu, in which he connected all the legends together, in the usual style