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SIR WILLIAM JONES.

WITH A PORTRAIT.

FEW persons can be named, during the last century, whose

works reflect greater honour on themselves and their country, or have rendered more essential service to mankind than those of that illustrious character the late Sir William Jones. In variety of acquirements, versatility of talents, correctness of judgment, and genuine philantrophy, it may be truly said, that he has been surpassed by none.

Sir William Jones was born in Wales, on the 28th of September, 1746. His father, Mr. William Jones, justly celebrated for his, mathematical knowledge, soon discovered in him the dawn of that genius which afterwards broke forth with meridian splendour, and though possessed but of a very moderate estate, he determined to give every liberal means of improvement in his power to a mind that held out such early promise of perfection. Young Jones was accordingly placed at Harrow school, then under the direction of that accomplished scholar and worthy man the late Dr. Sumner. From Harrow he was entered of University College, Oxford, where he became the object of general admiration and esteem for the energy and elegance of his literary compositions, his amiable manners, and those irreproachable morals which distinguished his conduct throughout life. He returned for a short time to Harrow, in the capacity of tutor to the present Earl Spencer; but that connection was dissolved by a circumstance to which we are indebted for Mr. Jones's first appearance in the republic of letters, although it was not productive of any material advantage to his private interest, or to his advancement in life.

When the King of Denmark visited this country, he expressed an earnest wish to have a translation of a Persian manuscript of the life of the celebrated Kouli Khan, or Nadir Shah. Mr. Jones readily undertook the task; but as it was the desire of his Majesty, that the work should be translated into French, it became necessary for him, although as well acquainted as most of his countrymen with that language, to visit France, for the purpose of acquiring those "peculiarities of idiom and nice shades of meaning," with out which he could not hope to give a polished and spirited version. He accordingly resigned his connection with the Spencer family, proceeded on the tour of France, and fixed his residence at Nice. The undertaking was commenced and completed in the course of a year. It was published in 1770, in two volumes quarto, by the translator, at his own expence; and numerous copies of the work, superbly bound, were presented to the King of Denmark, and the nobility of his court. They were graciously received, but the only remuneration of the translator was his admission into the royal society of Copenhagen.

VOL. 2.-No. 8.

M

Christian

Christian VII. seems indeed to have thought that it did not exactly belong to the munificence of the Court of Copenhagen to reward the merits of one of the British literati, and the academic honour conferred upon Mr. Jones was accompanied with a Latin epistle, recommending him to the patronage of his Britannic Majesty. In the mean time, however, Lord Dartmouth, who was to have presented the letter, resigned his office of Secretary of State, and the King of Denmark took no further notice of the translator. This disappointment certainly made a deep impression upon his feelings, and he alludes to it with his accustomed perspicuity and strength of expression in the following passage of his preface to the English edition of Nadir Shah: " It is a melancholy consideration, that the profession of literature, by far the most laborious of any, leads to no real benefit or true glory whatsoever. Poetry, science, letters, when they are not made the sole business of life, may become its ornament in prosperity, and its most pleasing consolation in a change of fortune; but if a man addicts himself entirely to learning, and hopes, by that, either to raise a family, or to acquire, what so many wish for, and so few ever attain, an honourable retirement in his declining age, he will find, when it is too late, that he has mistaken his path; that other labours, other studies, are necessary; and that, unless he can assert his own independence in active life, it will avail him little to be favoured by the learned, esteemed by the eminent, or flattered even by kings."

His fondness for the literature of the East was remarkable, even from the early age of fourteen, and he lost no opportunity which might enable him to cultivate it with success. In his dissertation upon Eastern Literature, published in 1771, he evinced abilities as a linguist and a critic, which were the subject of unqualified eulogium; and this work was soon followed by a Persian grammar, which has gone through several editions.

In 1772 appeared his poetical translations from the Asiatic, with two essays, the one" on the Arts, commonly called Imitative;" and the other, "on the Poetry of the Eastern Nations."

About this time our author was admitted of the Society of the Middle Temple; and in 1773 he took the degree of Master of Arts at the University of Oxford. From this period the whole of his time appears to have been occupied by the study of the law, with the exception of that portion of it which must have been employed in preparing for the press his learned composition of "Poeseos Asiatica Commentariorum libri Sex cum Appendice; Subjicitur limon seu Miscellaneorum liber." Having been called to the bar, he cultivated the duties of his profession with unremitted attention. He constantly attended the Courts of Westminster, and the Oxford circuit; but although he was allowed by the best authorities to possess a profound knowledge of the theory of jurisprudence, and to have made himself master of the practical parts of the science, his success was altogether inadequate to his merits and the expectations of his friends. He was indeed ap

pointed

pointed by Lord Bathurst, then Chancellor, a commissioner of bankrupts; but he languished almost in obscurity at the bar until the publication of" The Speeches of Isæus, in causes concerning the law of succession to property at Athens, with a prefatory discourse, notes critical and historical, and a commentary."

Encouraged by his numerous friends at Oxford, he was induced to offer himself as a candidate to represent the University in Parliament, at the general election in 1780; but the attempt was not crowned with success. In the same year appeared his tract, entitled "An Enquiry into the Legal Mode of suppressing Riots, with a Constitutional Plan of future Defence;" and to the subsequent editions of it were added, " A Speech on the Nomination of Candidates to represent the County of Middlesex, 9th September, 1780; and an oration intended to have been delivered by Mr. Jones on taking his degree of master of arts."

The following year our author published his celebrated essay on the Law of Bailments, pronounced by the first judges one of the best written books on any topic of legal science. It occasioned a just and elegant compliment from the eloquent pen of Mr. Gibbon ;-" Sir William Jones has given an ingenious and rational essay on the law of bailments; he is, perhaps, the only lawyer who is at once acquainted with the year books of Westminster, the commentaries of Ulpian, the attic pleadings of Isæus, and the sentences of Persian and Arabian Cadhis." It must not be forgotten that Mr. Jones was a zealous advocate for parlia mentary reform, in favour of which he delivered a speech, universally admired for liberality of sentiment, to the meeting held on the 28th of May, 1782, at the London Tavern. He was about this time elected a member of the Constitutional Society; but though an ardent friend to liberty, he was decidedly hostile to all theoretical innovation. His definition of the term constitution, so frequently used, and so little understood, is explicitly given in a letter to the secretary of that institution, and claims peculiar attention. He declares that he understands by it, "the great system of public, in contradiction to private and criminal law, which comprises all those articles which Blackstone arranges, in his first volume, under the rights of persons, and of which he gives a perspicuous analysis. Whatever then relates to the rights of persons, either absolute rights, as the enjoyment of liberty, security and property, or relative, that is, in the public relations of magistrates and people, makes a part of the majestic whole which we properly call the constitution. This constitutional or public law is partly unwritten, and grounded upon immemorial usage, and partly written, or enacted by the legislative power; but the unwritten, or common law, contains the true spirit of our constitution: the written has often most unjustifiably altered the form of it; the common law is the collected wisdom of many centuries, having been used and approved by successive generations; but the statutes frequently contain the whims of a few leading men, and sometimes of the mere individuals employed to draw them."

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A seat

A seat on the bench in the East-Indies had been for some years the object of our author's wishes, and they were gratified on the 4th of March 1783, when he was appointed to that station, and soon after received the honour of knighthood. He married on the 8th of April Miss Shipley, eldest daughter of the bishop of St. Asaph, and they embarked for Bengal in the course of a few weeks. The activity of his mind did not allow him, even during his voyage, to be inattentive to the interests of science, and he then conceived and formed the plan of the Asiatic society, whose curious and useful labours have been lately submitted to the public.

The appointment of Sir William Jones to his new situation is admitted to have been productive of great and permanent advantages to the administration of justice in India; and while he cultivated almost every branch of general science, he was indefatigable in discharging the important duties of his professional station. After a residence of eleven years, he found his health impaired by the influence of the climate, and his eager pursuit of knowledge. Advised by his physicians, and urgently pressed by his friends, to preserve a life so valuable to themselves, to science, and to virtue, he determined to return to England, and every arrangement for that purpose was made, when death interposed, and he was taken from the world on the 27th of April, 1794, in the forty-eighth year of his age.

With respect to his worth and amiable manners in private life, we cannot do better than speak of them in the language of one who "knew him well." Lord Teignmouth, in his address to the Asiatic society, of which Sir William Jones was president, observes, "Of the private and social virtues of our lamented president, our hearts are the best records. To you who knew him, it cannot be necessary for me to expatiate on the independence of his integrity, his humanity, probity, or benevolence, whilst every living creature participated on the affability of his conversation and manners, or his modest and unassuming deportment: nor need I remark that he was totally free from pedantry, as well as from arrogance and self-sufficiency, which sometimes accompany and disgrace the greatest abilities. His presence was the delight of every society, which his conversation exhilirated and improved; and the public have not only to lament the loss of his talents and abilities, but that of his example."

As an author Sir William Jones possessed peculiar excellencies. His genius approached nearly to universality. As an original writer, in his native language, his productions in prose, on poetry, law, oratory, and antiquities, exhibit great depth of thought, rare perspicuity of arrangement, and uncommon felicity of expression. As a philologer his extensive acquirements and critical skill are established in the very first rank. In his translations his accuracy and elegance are unquestionable; and he has been alike successful in his versions from the Greek, the Latin, the French, the Arabic, the Persian, and the Sanscrit. His legal works are not voluminous; but what he has written in that way is equal in profoundness of investigation, and superior, in the genuine graces of style, to all other compositions on the same topics,

AN

AN ACCOUNT OF THE MANNER

IN WHICH

JOHN HELVETIUS,

The Dutch Physician,

ACQUIRED HIS EXTENSIVE FAME AND LARGE FORTUNE.

JOHN HELVETIUS was the son of Dr. Adrian Helvetius, a

resident in Holland; he was educated in the science of medicine under his father's care, and who, when he had finished his studies, sent him to retail some particular medicines in Paris-a city in which he thought a large fortune was soon to be acquired from the great number of sick always there, and from their partiality to novelty, he thought his medicines would be generally adopted; but notwithstanding the young Helvetius was very attentive, and sought every opportunity to dispose of his medicines, he could not earn sufficient to procure him the common necessaries of life; he was obliged to part with one share of his drugs gratuitously, in order to sell the other; at length, oppressed by necessity, he returned to Holland.

His return did not in the least cloud the golden prospects his father had in view, and with the utmost confidence in success, he sent him back with a large cargo of medicines of more elaborate preparation, and more powerful ingredients, and, as he imagined, infallible efficacy.

Helvetius, on his return to Paris, immediately published his arrival, but the public opinion being less favourable to him than his own, no notice was taken of him; his assiduity and exertions, however, were not less than before, and he at length became acquainted with a rich druggist, who soon after being attacked with a very dangerous disorder, permitted Helvetius, jointly with Aforti, a celebrated physician, to exert his abilities for his relief.

On the druggist's recovery he offered Aforti five or six pounds of ipecacuanha root, as a very valuable recompense for his care and attention; but this plant was unknown to the doctor; he preferred the louis d'ors, whose specific virtue he well knew against the accursed pest of poverty, which then desolated many famílies at Paris.

Fortune here seemed inclined to raise Helvetius, and to reward him for his perseverance; he was particularly happy to find that Aforti preferred a few pieces of gold to the valuable and efficacious plant which had been offered to him. Helvetius, who was a great favourite of the druggist's, asked for the ipecacuanha, and obtained his request: Immediately he went to the hospital, and tried its virtues on some of the invalids; his success was great; frequent repetitions were equally propitious; and after numberless trials he found that he possessed a specific for the dysentery;

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