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poetical talents, which displayed themselves in the composition of verses in imitation of his favourite authors. But his progress in classical learning, during this interval, was altogether suspended; for although he might have availed himself of the proffered instruction of a friend, in whose house he resided, to acquire the rudiments of Latin, he was then so unable to comprehend its utility, and had so little relish for it, that he was left unrestrained to pursue his juvenile occupations and amusements; and the little which he had gained in his two first years was nearly lost in the third.
On his return to school he was, however, placed in the same class which he would have attained, if the progress
of his studies had not been interrupted. He was, of course, far behind his fellow-labourers of the same standing, who erroneously ascribed his insuficiency to laziness or dulness; while the master, who had raised him to a situation above his powers, required exertions of which he was incapable; and corporal punishment and degradation were applied, for the non-performance of tasks which he had never been instructed to furnish. But, in truth, he far excelled his school-fellows in general, both in diligence and quickness of apprehension; nor was he of a temper to submit to imputations, which he knew to be unmerited. Punishment failed to produce the intended effect; but his emulation was roused. He devoted himself incessantly to the perusal of various elementary treatises, which had never been explained nor even recommended to him; and having thus acquired principles, he applied them with such skill and success, that, in a few months, he not only recovered the station from which he had been degraded, but was at the head of his class: his compositions were correct, his analysis accurate, and he uniformly gained every prize offered for the best exercise. He volun. tarily extended his studies beyond the prescribed limits, and, by solitary labour, having acquired a competent knowledge of the rules of prosody, he composed verses in imitation of Ovid; a task which had never been required from any of the students in the lower school at Harrow.
The behaviour of the master to Jones made an impression on his mind, which he ever remembered with abhorrence. Little doubt can be entertained that he might have been stimulated to equal exertions, if encouragement had been substituted for severity, and instruction for disgrace. The accumulation of punishment, for his inability to soar before he had been taught to fly, (I use his own expression) might have rendered the feelings callous; and a sense of the injustice attending the infliction of it was calculated to destroy the respect due to magisterial a'thority, and its influence over the scholar. It is a material and, perhaps, unavoidable defect, in the system of education at public schools, that the necessity of regulating instruction, by general rules, must often preclude that attention to the tempers and capacities of individuals, by which their attainments might be essentially promoted.
In his twelfth year, Jones was moved into the upper school. Of the retentive powers of his memory, at this period, the following anecdote is a remarkable instance. His school-fellows proposed to amuse themselves with the representation of a play; and, at his recommendation, they fixed upon the Tempest. As it was not readily to be procured, he wrote it for them so correctly, from memory, that they acted it with great satisfaction to themselves, and with considerable entertainment to the spectators. He performed the character of Prospero.
His diligence increased with his advancement in the school : he now entered upon the study of the Greek
tongue; the characters of which he had already learned for his amusement. His genius and assiduity were also displayed in various compositions, not required by the discipline of the school. He translated into English verse several of the epistles of Ovid, all the pastorals of Virgil, and composed a dramatic piece on the story of Meleager, which he denominated a tragedy; and it was acted, during the vacation, by some of his schoolfellows, with whom he was most intimate. In his own play he performed the part of the hero.
A copy of this little composition, inaccurately transcribed by a relation, has been preserved; and, to gratify that curiosity which the mention of it may have excited, I select from it the following lines:
Still Discord raves, Bellona fiercely storms,
These juvenile efforts contributed to establish the influence and reputation of Jones in the school; and the success, with which his studies had latterly been pursued, left him no reason to regret the disadvantages under which he had at first laboured. His improvement in the knowledge of prosody was truly extraordinary ; he soon acquired a proficiency in all the varieties of Roman metre; so that he was able to scan the trochiac and.iambic verses of Terence, before his companions even suspected that they were any thing but mere prose. He also learned to taste the elegance of that writer, and was frequently heard to repeat, with particular satisfaction, the rule in the Andria:
Facile omnes perserre et pati
Such was the extent of his attainments, and such his facility of composition, that for two years he wrote the exercises of many boys in the two superior classes, who often obtained credit for performances to which they had no title, whilst the students in the same class with himself were happy to become his pupils. During the holidays his studies were varied, but not relaxed; in these intervals he learned the rudiments of French and arithmetic, and was particularly gratified with an invitation to attend the meetings of learned and ingenious men, at the house of that amiable philosopher, Mr. Baker, and his friend, Mr. Pond. As an introduction to the knowledge of the subjects discussed in this literary society, by the particular recommendation of his mother, he read the Spectacle de la Nature: he acknowledged, however, that he was more entertained with the Arabian Tales, and Shakespeare, whose poems and plays he repeatedly perused with increased delight.
In the usual recreations of his school-fellows at Harrow, Jones was rarely a partaker; and the hours which they allotted to amusement, he generally devoted to improvement. The following anecdote strongly indicates the turn of his mind, and the impression made by his studies. He invented a political play, in which Dr. William Bennett,* bishop of Cloyne, and the celebrated Dr. Parr, were his principal associates. They divided the fields in the ncighbourhood of Harrow, according to a map of Greece, into states and kingdoms; each fixed upon one as his dominion, and assumed an ancient name. Some of their school-fellows consented to be styled barbarians, who were to invade their territories and attack their hillocks, which were denominated fortresses. The chiefs vigorously defended their respective domains, against the incursions of the enemy; and, in these imitative wars, the young statesmen held councils, made vehement harangues, and composed memorials, all doubtless very boyish, but calculated to fill their minds with ideas of legislation and civil government. In these unusual amusements, Jones was ever the leader; and he might justly have appropriated to himself the words of Catullus:
Ego gymnasii flos, ego decus olei. Dr. Thackeray retired from the superintendence of the school at Harrow, when his pupil had attained his fifteenth year. It was a singular trait in the character of this good man and respectable tutor, that he never
The bishop of Cloyne, in a letter to the dean of St. Asaph, dated November 1795, mentions Sir William Jones, in terms of respect and affection : “ I knew him (he writes) from the early age of eight or nine, " and he was always an uncommon boy. Great abilities, great parti6 cularity of thinking, fondness for writing verses and plays of various « kinds, and a degree of integrity and manly courage, of which I “ remember many instances, distinguished him even at that period. I « loved him and revered him, and though one or two years older than he
was, was always instructed by him from my earliest age.
« In a word, I can only say of this amiable and wonderful man, that « he had more virtues, and less faults, than I ever yet saw in any human “ being; and that the goodness of his head, admirable as it was, was o exceeded by that of his heart. I have never ceased to admire him « from the moment I first saw him; and my esteein for his great " qualities, and regret for his loss, will only end with my life.”