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nexth month if you please; especially, as I propose to spend the long vacation in a floating house, and to leave Calcutta as soon as the session is over; but I shall return dead or alive before the 22d of October. I am inexpressibly amused by a Persian translation of an old Sanscrit book, called Siry Bha’gwat, which comprizes almost the whole of the Hindu religion, and contains the life and achievements of Crishen ; it is by far the most entertaining book, on account of its novelty and wildness, that I ever read. Farewell, and believe me, dear Sir, Ever affectionately yours,
Sir WILLIAM JONES to Dr. PATRICK RUSSELL.
Calcutta, March 10, 1784. You would readily excuse my delay in answering your obliging letter, if you could form an idea of the incessant hurry and confusion, in which I have been kept ever since my arrival in Bengal, by necessary business, or necessary formalities, and by the difficulty of settling myself to my mind, in a country so different from that which I have left. I am indeed at best, but a bad correspondent; for I never write by candle-light, and find so much Arabic or Persian to read, that all my leisure in a morning, is hardly sufficient for a thousandth part of the reading that would be highly agreeable and useful to me; and as I purpose to spend the long vacation up the country, I wish to be a match in conversation with the learned natives, whom I may happen to meet.
I rejoice that you are so near, but lament that you are not nearer, and am not without hope, that you may one day be tempted to visit Bengal, where I flatter myself you will give me as much of your company as possible.
Many Many thanks for your kind hints in regard to my health. As to me, I do not expect, as long as I stay in India, to be free from a bad digestion, the morbus literatorum, for which there is hardly any remedy, but abstinence from too much food, literary and culinary. I rise before the sun, and bathe after a gentle ride; my diet is light and sparing, and I go early to rest ; yet the activity of my mind is too strong for my constitution, though naturally not infirm, and I must be satisfied with a valetudinarian state of health. If you should meet with
any curiosities on the coast, either in your botanical rambles or in reading, and will communicate them to our society, lately instituted for enquiring into the history, civil and natural, the antiquities, arts, sciences, and literature of Asia, we shall give you our hearty thanks. There is an Abyssinian here, who knew Mr. Bruce at Gwender. I have examined him, and he confirms Bruce's account. Every day supplies me with something new in Oriental learning, and if I were to stay here half a century, I should be continually amused.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to
April 13, 1784.
I am discouraged from writing to you as copiously as I wish, by the fear that my letter may never reach you. I inclose however a hymn to the Indian cupid, which is here said to be the only correct specimen of Hindu mythology that has appeared ; it is certainly new and quite original, except the form of the stanza, which is Milton's. I add the character of Lord Ashburton, which my zeal for his fame prompted me to publish*.
* Lord Ashburton died on the 18th of August 1783. His character, written by Sir Willian Jones, is published in vol. iv. of his works, page 577. I transcribe from it the last paragraph, as a proof of the gratitude and sensibility of the writer.
Had I dreamt that the dialogue would have made such a stir, I should certainly have: taken more pains with it. I will never cease to avow and justify the doctrine comprised in it. I meant it merely as an imitation of one of Plato's, where a boy wholly ignorant of geometry, is made by a few simple questions to demonstrate a proposition, and I intended to inculcate, that the principles
principles of government were so obvious and intelligible, that a clown might be brought to understand them. As to raising sedition, I as much thought of raising a church.
My dialogue contains my system, which I have ever avowed; and ever will avow; but I perfectly agree (and no man of sound intellect can disagree), that such a system is wholly inapplicable to this country, where millions of men are so wedded to inveterate prejudices, and habits, that if liberty could be forced upon them by Britain, it would make them as, miserable as the cruelest despotism.
Pray remember me affectionately to all my friends at the bar, whom I have not time to enumerate, and assure my academical
“. For some months before his death, the nursery had been his chief delight, and gave “ him more pleasure than the cabinet could have afforded : but this parental affection, “ which had been a source of so much felicity, was probably a cause of his fatal illness. “ He had lost one son, and expected to lose another, when the author of this painful “ tribute to his memory, parted from him, with tears in his eyes, little hoping to see him
again in a perishable state. As he perceives, without affectation, that his tears now “ steal from hiin, and begin to moisten the paper on which he writes, he reluctantly “ leaves a subject, which he could not soon have exhausted ; and when he also shall
resign his life to the great Giver of it, he desires no other decoration of his humble grave-stone, than this honourable truth:
“ With none to flatter, none to recommend,
and professional friends, that I will write to them all when I have leisure. Farewell, &c.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to CHARLES CHAPMAN, Esq.
Gardens, near Allipore, April 26, 1784. Allow me, dear Sir, to give you the warmest thanks in my own name, and in that of our infant society, for the pleasure which we have received from your interesting account of Cochinchina, with considerable extracts from which we have been favoured by our patrons. Our meetings are well attended, and the society may really be said, considering the recent time of its establishment, to flourish.
We have been rather indisposed, the weather being such as wè had no idea of in England, excessive heat at noon, and an incessant high wind from morning to night; at this moment it blows a hurricane, and my study reminds me of my cabin at sea. of life however is quite pastoral in this retired spot; as my prime favourites, among all our pets, are two large English sheep, which came with us from Spithead, and, having narrowly escaped the knife, are to live as long and as happily with us as they can ; they follow us for bread, and are perfectly domestic. We are literally Julled to sleep by Persian nightingales, and cease to wonder, that the Bulbul, with a thousand tales, makes such a figure in Oriental poetry. Since I am resolved to sit regularly in court as long as I am well, not knowing how soon I may be forced to remit my attention to business, I shall not be at liberty to enter my budgerow till near the end of July, and must be again in Calcutta on the 22d of October, so that my time will be very limited ; and I shall wish if possible to see Benares.
The principal object of his meditated excursion was to open sources of information, on topics entirely new in the republic of letters. The indisposition which he mentions, not without apprehensions of its continuance, had not altogether left him when he commenced his journey, and during the progress of it returned with a severity, which long held the public in anxious suspense, before any hopes could be entertained of its favourable termination.
The author of these memoirs saw him in August 1784, at the house of a friend in the vicinity of Moorshedabad, languid, exhausted, and emaciated, in a state of very doubtful convalescence; but his mind had suffered no depression, and exhibited all its habitual fervour. In bis conversation he spoke with rapture of the country, of the novel and interesting sources opened to his researches, and seemed to lament his sufferings, only as impediments to the prosecution of them. From Moorshedabad he proceeded to Jungipore, at the distance of a day's journey only, and from this place continued his correspondence, which describes his condition.
Sir WILLIAM JONES to CHARLES CHAPMAN, Esq.
August 30, 1781. Nothing but a series of severe attacks of illness could have prevented my replying long ago to your friendly letter. After resisting them by temperance and exercise for some time, I was quite overpowered by a fever, which has confined me ten weeks to my couch, but is now almost entirely abated, though it has left me in a state of extreme weakness. I had a relapse at Raugamutty, which obliged me to stay three weeks at Afzalbang, where the judgment and attention of Dr. Glas, prevented perhaps serious consequences. I have spent two days at this place, and I find my