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applauded the best compositions of his scholars, from a notion, which he had adopted, that praise only tended to make them vain or idle. But the opinion which he gave of Jones, in private, was, that he was a boy of so active a mind, that if he were left naked and friendless on Salisbury plain, he would nevertheless, find the road to fame and riches.
Dr. Thackeray was succeeded by Dr. Sumner; and, for his information of the course of study pursued at Harrow, a plan of the lectures and exercises, in the upper school, was accurately delineated by Jones, at the suggestion of the principal assistant, who presented it to the new master, with many encomiums on the talents of his favourite scholar. He annexed to it a collection of his compositions, including his translation of the pastorals of Virgil. Dr. Sumner quickly distinguished him; and of the two complete years which he passed under that excellent instructor, it is sufficient to say, that he employed them in reading and imitating the best ancient authors. Nor did he confine himself merely to the compositions of Greece and Rome; he learned the Arabic characters, and studied the Hebrew language sufficiently to enable him to read some of the original Psalms. His ardour for knowledge was so unlimited, that he frequently devoted whole nights to study, taking coffee or tea as an antidote to drowsiness; and his improvement, by these extraordinary exertions, was so rapid, that he soon became the prime favourite of his master, who, with an excusable partiality, was heard to declare, that Jones knew more Greek than himself, and was a greater proficient in the idiom of that language. Nor was he less a favourite with his fellow-students than with his master; he acquired popularity with them, by the frequent holidays that rewarded the excellence of his compositions. His reputation, at the same time, was so extensive, that he was often flattered by the enquiries of strangers, under the title of the Great Scholar.
Of his juvenile compositions, in prose and verse, the early fruits of rare talents and unbounded industry, some have been printed in the fragment of a work which he began at school, and entitled Limon,* in imitation of Cicero. During the last months of his residence at Harrow, Dr. Sumner not only dispensed with his attendance at school, but was obliged to interdict his application, in consequence of a weakness of sight contracted by it. His compositions were not, however, discontinued; and he obtained the assistance of the younger students to write them from his dictation. He employed the intervals of suspended duty, which he was reluctantly compelled to admit, in learning chess, by practising the games of Philidor.
During the vacations, his application was directed to improve his knowledge of French and arithmetic, to which he also added the study of the Italian. Books he had always at command; for his mother, who contemplated with delight the progress of her son, with a wise liberality allowed him unlimited credit on her purse. But of this indulgence, as he knew that her finances were restricted, he availed himself no further than to purchase such books as were essential to his improvement.
I shall here transcribe, without alteration or omission, a letter which the young student, at the age of fourteen, wrote to his sister, to console her for the death of a friend.
When I received your letter, I was very concerned to hear the death of your friend Mr. Reynolds, which I consider as a piece of affliction common to us both.... For although my knowledge of his name or character is of no long date, and though I never had any personal acquaintance with him, yet (as you observe) we ought to regret the loss of every honourable man; and, if I had the pleasure of your conversation, I would certainly give you any consolatory advice that lay in my power, and make it my business to convince you what a real share I take in your chagrin. And yet, to reason philosophically, I cannot' help thinking any grief upon a person's death very superfluous, and inconsistent with sense; for what is the cause of our sorrow? Is it because we hate the person deceased? that were to imply strange contradiction, to express our joy by the common signs of sorrow. If, on the other hand, we grieve for one who was dear to us, I should reply that we should, on the contrary, rejoice at his having lest a state so perilous and uncertain as life is. The common strain is...." Tis pity so virtuous a man should die”....but I assert the contrary; and when I hear the death of a person of merit, I cannot help reflecting, how happy must he be who now takes the reward of his excellencies, without the possibility of falling away from them, and losing the virtue which he professed, on whose character death has fixed a kind of seal, and pla him out of the reach of vice and infamy! for death only closes a man's reputation, and determines it as either good or bad. On the contrary, in life nothing is certain; whilst any one is liable to alteration, we may possibly be forced to retract our esteem for him, and some time or other he may appear to us, as under a different light than what he does at present; for the life of no man can be pronounced either happy or miserable, virtuous or abandoned, before the conclusion of it. It was upon this reflection, that Solon, being asked by Cresus, a monarch of immense riches, who was the happiest man? answered, after your death I shall be able to determine. Besides, though a man should pursue a constant and determinate course of virtue, though he were to keep regular symmetry and uniformity in his actions, and preserve the beauty of his reputation to the last, yet (while he lives) his very virtue may incur some evil imputation, and provoke a thousand murmurs of detraction; for, believe me, my dear sister, there is no instance of any virtue, or social excellence, which has not excited the envy of innumerable assailants, whose acrimony is raised barely by seeing others pleased, and by hearing commendation which another enjoys. It is not easy, in this life, for any man to escape censure: and infamy requires very little labour to assist its circulation. But there is a kind of sanction in the characters of the dead, which gives due force and reward their merits, and defends them from the suggestions of calumny. But to return to the point; what reason is there to disturb yourself on this melancholy occasion ? do but reflect that thousands die every moment of time; that even while we speak, some unhappy wretch or other is either pining with hunger, or pinched with poverty, sometimes giving up his life to the point of the sword, torn with convulsive agonies, and undergoing many miseries which it were superfluous to mention. We should, therefore, compare our afflictions with those who are more miserable, and not with those who are more happy. I am ashamed to add more, lest I should seem to mistrust your prudence; but next week, when I understand your mind is more composed, I shall write you word how all things go here. I designed to write you this letter in French; but I thought I could express my thoughts with more energy in my own language.
* Works of Sir William Jones, vol. ii. page 627.
I come now, after a long interval, to mention some more private circumstances. Pray give my duty to my Mamma, and thank her for my shirts. They fit, in my opinion, very well; though Biddy says they are too little in the arms. You may expect a letter from me every day in the week, till I come home; for Mrs. Biscoe has desired it, and has given me some franks. When you see her, you may tell her that her little boy sends his duty to her, and Mr. Biscoe his love to his sister, and desires to be remembered to Miss Cleeve: he also sends his compliments to my mamma and you. Upon my word, I never thought our bleak air would have so good an effect upon him. His complexion is now ruddy, which before was sallow and pale, and he is indeed much grown: but I now speak of trifles, I mean in comparison of his learning; and indeed he takes that with wonderful acuteness; besides, his excessive high spirits increase mine, and give me comfort, since, after Parnell's departure, he is almost the only company I keep. As for news, the only article I know is, that Mrs. Par is dead and buried. Mr. and Mrs. Sumner are well: the latter thanks you for bringing the letter from
your old acquaintance, and the former has made me an elegant present. I am now very much taken
up with study; am to speak Antony's speech in Shakespeare's Julius Cæsar (which play I will read to you when I come to town), and am this week to make a declamation. I add no more than the sincere wellwishes of your faithful friend,
And affectionate brother,
If I am not deceived by my partiality for the memory of Sir William Jones, this letter will be perused with interest by the public. The topics selected for the