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Note.—The originals of the Latin and French letters, of which translations are inserted in the
LIFE, WRITINGS, AND CORRESPONDENCE
SIR WILLIAM JONES.
The origin of the family of Sir William Jones on the maternal side, has been traced, by the industry of Lewis Morris, a learned British antiquary, to the ancient Princes and Chieftains of North Wales. With whatever delight, however, the Cambrian genealogist might pursue the line of his ancestry, a barren catalogue of uncouth names would furnish no entertainment to the reader. I shall only transcribe from the list a single and remarkable name in one of the collateral branches, that of William o Dregaian, who died in one thousand five hundred and eighty one, at the advanced age of one hundred and five years; with the note annexed to it, that by three wives he had thirty-six children, seven more by two concubines, and that eighty of his issue, during his life, were living in the parish of Tregaian, in Anglesey.
But I insert, without apology for the anticipation, a letter addressed by Mr. Morris to the father of Sir William Jones, as an
B interesting interesting memorial of an ancient custom which is daily falling into disuse, and a pleasing specimen of the mind and talents of the writer.
To WILLIAM JONES, Esquire.
January 1, 1748.
It was a custom amorfg the Ancient Britons (and still retained in Anglesey) for the most knowing among them in the descent of families, to send their friends of the same stock or family, a dydd calan Ionawr a calennig, a present of their pedigree; which was in order, I presume, to keep up a friendship among relations, which these people preserved surprisingly, and do to this day among the meanest of them, to the sixth and seventh degree.
Some writers take notice that the Gauls also were noted for this affection and regard for their own people, though ever so distantly related. These things, to be sure, are trifles: but all other things in the world are trifles too.
I take men's bodies in the same sense as I take vegetables. Young trees propagated by seed or grafts, from a good old tree, certainly owe some regard to their primitive stock, provided trees could act and think ; and as for my part, the very thought of those brave people, who struggled so long with a superior power for their liberty, inspires me with such an idea of them, that I almost adore their memories. Therefore, to keep up that old laudable custom, I herewith send you a calennig of the same kind as that above mentioned; which I desire you will accept of.
I have reason to know, it is founded on good authority; for both my father and mother were related to your mother, and came from
the the same stock mentioned in the inclosed; which is the reason I am so well acquainted with your mother's descent; and on the same account, till further enquiry, an utter stranger to your father's family.
As you were young when you left the country, it cannot be supposed that you could know much of these things. I have had too much time there; I wish I had not; for I might have applied it to better use than I have. If this gives you any pleasure, I shall be glad of it; if not, commit it to the flames: and believe me to be, with truth and sincerity, &c.
Leaving the genealogical splendour of the family of Sir William Jones to the contemplation of the antiquary, it may be remarked with pleasure, that its latest descendants have a claim to reputation, founded upon the honourable and unambiguous testimony of personal merit. His father was the celebrated philosopher and mathematician who so eminently distinguished himself in the commencement of the last century: and a short, but more accurate sketch of his life than has hitherto appeared, which I am enabled to give from the authority of his son, may be acceptable to the lovers of science.
Mr. William Jones was born in the year 16*80, in Anglesey; his parents were yeomen, or little farmers, on that island; and he there received the best education which they were able to afford: but the industrious exertion of vigorous intellectual powers, supplied the defects of inadequate instruction, and laid the foundation of his future fame and fortune. From his earliest years, Mr. Jones discovered a propensity to mathematical studies, and, having cultivated them with assiduity, he began his career in life, by teaching mathematics