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I HAVE the honour to present to your Ladyship, the Memoirs of the Life of Sir William JONES; and it will afford me the sincerest pleasure to know, that the expectations which induced you to request me to undertake this work, have not been disappointed by the perusal of it.
I have the honour to be,
IN presenting the public with an account of the Life of Sir WILLIAM JONES, I feel a particular anxiety, to guard against the charge of presumption for an undertaking, which may be thought to require a more than ordinary share of learning and abilities. I hope therefore, to have credit for a declaration, that nothing but the earnest solicitation of Lady Jones, who knew my affection for her Husband when living, and my unabated regard for his memory, and who conceived that these qualifications might supply the deficiency of more essential talents, could have prevailed upon me, to enter upon a literary career, so foreign to the habits of a life, of which more than fifty years are now elapsed.
It may be proper to notice the materials, which I have used in this compilation, and to explain the plan which I have adopted in the arrangement of them. The first, is a single sheet written by Sir William Jones, containing short notices of his situation and occupations during every year of his life; it is indeed extended beyond the date of his existence, to the 50th year, opposite to which the words ovy sw, if God pleases, are inserted ; it appears to have been hastily written, a few months only before his death, and although the dates are sometimes inaccurate, and the notices too brief to supply more than a reference, it suggested enquiries which have sometimes terminated satisfactorily, though more frequently in disappointment. This paper however dictated the plan of the work, and I have endeavoured, as far as my materials permitted, to trace the life of Sir William Jones, year by year.
For the first twenty-two years of it, my authorities are ample and satisfactory; they consist principally of memoranda written by Sir William himself, and in describing the occurrences of this period, I have frequently availed myself of his own words. I wish indeed that, I could have used them exclusively, but the paper is not altogether in a form to admit of publication.
The account of the last twelve years of his life in India, is chiefly supplied by my own recollection, assisted by information collected from his writings and correspondence.
Of the events of his life between 1768, his twenty-second year, and the date of his embarkation for India in 1783, my information