Page images

limited; the knights and rooks, and other pieces, have some kind of resemblance to the orders of nobility, who are employed in war, and in the management of public affairs; but the principal strength is in the pawns, or people: if these are firmly united, they are sure of victory; but if divided and separated, the battle is lost. The motions of all, as in the game of chess, are regulated by fixed laws. Lastly, when I consider myself, I seem like a spectator, contemplating, for his mere amusement, the two parties at the game; but if it ever should be my lot to be concerned in the administration of affairs, I will renounce gain and popularity, and pursue one object, and one only, to preserve our beautiful constitution inviolate.

Contrary to my intention, I find I have been prolix. I will, therefore, turn to another subject. I read your last letter with an apprehension that it might communi. cate the intelligence of your speedy departure from England; but as you are silent on this head, as my business here will soon be concluded, and as I know the uncertainty of all human affairs, I am determined to embrace an opportunity, which, if I now neglect, may not again occur, of paying you a visit in London, about the middle of the month....Farewel.

* Mr. Jones to C. Reviczki.... No date....1768.

I have received your two letters, replete with taste and erudition: your kindness towards me is as conspicuous in them, as the brilliancy of your genius. I now reply to both.

Your approbation of my intention to publish my work, gives me, as it ought, great pleasure: for I cannot but rejoice, as Hector in the tragedy says, " in the

* Appendix, No. 8.

praise of one, who is himself entitled to praise.” The perusal of the two odes of the divine poet afforded me infinite delight; they are very beautiful, but their beauties are more conspicuous from your luminous interpretation. Your metrical imitation of them is elegant, and if you will allow me to publish it in my work, you will equally oblige me and my readers, who will be glad to see the Persian poet speak Latin. If you object to this, copies of them shall be deposited with my treasures, and the originals restored to you as soon as possible. You bid me return the verses to you when I am tired with them : this is as much as to say, keep them for ever; for it is impossible that I can ever be tired with the perusal.

* Mr. Jones to G. Reviczki.

Oxford, November, 1768. I cannot resist the temptation of writing to you, although I fear you may have quitted this country before my letter arrives.

I have received your obliging letter, with an elegant ode of Hafez, which I read with the greatest pleasure, or rather devoured.

But what necessity is there to say more, since it is possible that what I write may never reach you? Let me, again and again, intreat and beseech your remembrance of me wherever you go; and that you will write to me as speedily, and at as great a length, as possible. Be assured that nothing has, or ever can, afford me greater pleasure than your friendship.

Appendix, No. 9.

These Letters strongly mark the enthusiasm of Mr. Jones, and his learned friend Reviczki, for Oriental literature; nor am I surprised to find that the former should have been led by it to entertain an intention of visiting the East: no one however, will regret that it was, at that period, abandoned. Every reader will peruse, with pleasure, the enthusiastic veneration expressed by Mr. Jones for the British constitution, and the ardour with which he pronounces himself its champion: they will also remark that his attachment to it was indelible, and acquired strength from his increasing knowledge of its laws and principles.

For an account of his occupations at Wimbledon, where he passed the Spring of 1769, I shall transcribe part of a letter, which he wrote to an intimate friend, John Wilmot, Esquire.

“ My life is one unvaried scene of writing letters, and

attending the donzelle vezzose e tenerelle, by whose " beauties I confess myself easily overcome.

“ I have just read Robertson's Life of Charles the “ Fifth, the narrative of which is amusing and instruc" tive, and the style flowing and elegant; but the former

wants that spirit and fire of genius, that alone can “ make a history animated, and leave great impressions

on the mind; and the latter has too great a sameness " in the turn of the sentences, and abounds with too

many affected words. “ I have also given my favourite Petrarch a second

reading, and was so much pleased with his lamenta" tions over Laura, that I selected the most beautiful “ passages, and threw them all together in the form of

an Elegy,* which I send you enclosed, but beg you " will return it as soon as you can, as I have no other

Works, vol. iv. p. 459.

copy. I fear I shall not be at Oxford this Spring, “ but am not certain. Give my compliments to Poore, " and tell him, if he will descend from the starry temple “ of philosophy, and write to a very idle fellow, I shall “ be glad to hear from him, especially as I am desirous “ of knowing his sentiments about my Treatise de " Poesi Asiatica."

In the summer of this year, lord Althorpe was settled at Harrow, and Mr. Jones, who accompanied him there, had the satisfaction of seeing himself restored to the society of Dr. Sumner. Their enthusiasm for literature was equal: the master contemplated, with delight unmixed with envy, a rival of his own erudition in his scholar, who acknowledged, with gratitude, his obligations to his preceptor. Their intercourse, although interrupted, had never been discontinued: and Mr. Jones seldom suffered any considerable time to elapse without visiting Harrow. During his residence there, at this period, he transcribed a Persian Grammar which he had three years before composed for the use of a school. fellow, who had been destined for India, but had since relinquished that object for a commission in the army.

I find also from his correspondence, that he had begun a dictionary of the Persian language, in which the principal words were illustrated from the most celebrated authors of the East: but he expressed, at the same time, his determination not to continue the work, unless the India company would purchase it, at a considerable expense.

The serious reader has probably remarked, that, amidst the attention of Mr. Jones to general literature, religion has not been mentioned as an object of his study; and he may be solicitous to know his opinions on this important subject, and whether he had made any, and what, progress in that knowledge, in comparison of which all erudition is trilling, and human science vain. Notwithstanding the anxiety of Mrs. Jones for the improvement of her son, and her indefatigable exertions to promote it in his early years, she had initiated him no further in the principles of our holy faith, than to teach him the Lord's Prayer and Apostles' Creed. During his residence at Harrow, at the earnest recommendation of Dr. Glasse, whose name I mention with reverence, Mr. Jones was induced to peruse a work, intitled, - Private Thoughts on Religion,” by bishop Beveridge, with considerable attention; and he was particularly struck with a passage,

in which the pious author argues, that a profession of Christianity, merely because our countrymen profess it, without a candid enquiry and sincere conviction, would be no better reason for our faith than the Mahommedans have for theirs. The observation readily suggested to his recollection a famous couplet in Zayre, which he did not hesitate to apply to himself:

J'eusse été, prés du Gange, ésclave des faux dieux,
Chrétienne dans Paris, Mussulmane en ces lieux.

I wish, for my own satisfaction, as well as that of my reader, that I were able to pronounce what impression the perusal of this work made upon the mind of Mr. Jones. It is probable, and the presumption is not advanced without reason, that it induced him to reflect with more seriousness than he had ever before entertained on the subject of religion, and to investigate the grounds on which the Old and New Testament had been received, during so many ages, as the word of God. It is evident, however, from a conversation with two of his clerical friends at Harrow, at this time, when


« PreviousContinue »