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talent; his Commentaries' established his fame in distant lands, among all the learned societies of the world.
In the midst of honours and rewards fast gathering upon him, domestic affliction laid its heavy hand on the scholar; and his mother, whose health had been in a declining state for some time, was at last taken from him in 1780. She had been his companion, adviser, and friend, from his earliest years; and to her self-sacrifice of personal comfort--which enabled her to meet the expenses of her son's education, and thus secure his fame-Jones owed a life-long gratitude. Nor was he slow to pay it. The hurry and excitement of the world in which he now moved, the long hours of hard study, the honours showered on his labours thick and fast, had never for one moment made Jones unmindful of his duty to his mother. She had long been the sole object of his care and affection; her early liberality to him was repaid by his putting his increasing means at her entire command; and every spare hour that he could give from his professional or oriental avocations, had been passed with her at Oxford. We cannot wonder, therefore, that this affliction coming upon him, when all else was triumph and honour, must have brought its salutary lesson on the mutability of all earthly glory, and that it led him to reflect how best to occupy the remaining years which Providence might see fit to grant him.
Much as Jones had done in the acquisition of knowledge, he was struck how much more there was still to do for the perfecting of that knowledge; how valuable, therefore, to the too eager student is the
following note found written by the linguist's own hand among
papers : Resolved, to learn no more rudiments of any kind, but to perfect myself in, first, twelve languages, as a means of acquiring accurate knowledge of the
I. HISTORY of-1. Man. 2. Nature.
II. ARTS 1. Rhetoric. 2. Poetry. 3. Painting. 4. Music.
III. SCIENCES. 1. Law. 2. Mathematics. 3. Dialectics.
.N.B. Every species of human knowledge may be reduced to one or other of these divisions. Even law belongs partly to the History of Man, partly as a science to Dialectics.
The twelve languages are Greek, Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, German, English, 1780.'
Where can the scholar be found in the present day, who, after publishing such a work as the Commentaries,' would confess himself imperfect in Latin? All honour to the wise man, who shows his wisdom, by an acknowledgement of its imperfection, and who ever feels that there is something better to be done than what many would deem their best !
We need not linger over the next few years of Jones's active life in England. His time was not
. unemployed either as a public man or a scholar. His earliest wish, ever since he had entered heart and soul into the study of oriental literature, had been to visit the East. During Lord North's administration, he had hoped to be in a position to gratify this wish, by obtaining a judgeship then vacant in India. But he had more than one rebuff and disappointment to encounter, and, in a letter to the Bishop of St. Asaph, he says, 'The delays about it have, it is true, greatly injured me. His plans and projects had, doubtless, been somewhat unsettled; but,' adds Jones, with characteristic energy, with my patience and assiduity, I could easily recover my lost ground.'
It was not until 1783, when Lord Shelburne came into office, that Jones was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal, and thus realised the hopes entertained through five long years. As a matter of course, he received with his appointment the honour of knighthood. It was now, with wealth and honour gained, that he turned to look for a reward more prized than both for his unwearied diligence and patience. As a man of independent means and position, he was at last able to lay all his honours at the feet of her who had engaged his early affections, and retained them constant for so many years.
In the April of 1783, he married Anna Maria Shipley, the eldest daughter of the Bishop of St. Asaph. To win her favour, in former days, Jones had secretly taken lessons in dancing and music, that he might, at least, share with those around her in the amusements she enjoyed. His honest manly affection forbade him to require her to share his early years of struggling for fame, if not for bread; but when both were gained, and he could secure for her freedom from pecuniary sacrifices and care, he hesitated no longer to ask the reward of his faithful attachment; and it was granted.
In other circumstances, Jones would have more
deeply felt his departure from England and many dear friends. But, with the one loved above all to share his exile, what could sadden his hopeful spirit, as he stood on the deck of the frigate Crocodile, and bade farewell to the white walls of Old England for ever ?
He reached Calcutta in September 1783, and in the following December opened the Sessions, by delivering his first charge to the grand jury. As a speaker, Sir William had long been known and admired in England. He did not disappoint the high expectations of those who had been anticipating his arrival in Calcutta. The integrity of his character, his love of justice, and strong attachment to the constitution of his own country, were strongly displayed in his opening address. He told the grand jury that he aspired to no popularity, and sought no praise but that which might be given to a strict and conscientious discharge of duty, without predilection or prejudice of any kind, to pronounce, on all occasions, what he conceived to be the law, than which no individual must suppose himself wiser.'
To fulfill this promise of strict impartiality, to give ample justice not only to his own countrymen but to Hindûs and Mahommedans alike, he soon found that one thing was essential, namely, to acquire for himself the power of examining into the ancient laws of the land, and put his own honest interpretation on their meaning in the original. He at once, therefore, commenced the study of Sanscrit, the original language of India, in which all laws and ordinances were written. To acquire a perfect knowledge of this language, however, was not the work of a few months,
or even years; and when this first difficulty should be overcome, one still more formidable obstacle might hinder his purpose.
This consisted, first, in the extreme reluctance felt by the natives to make known their secret ordinances to a race of people whom they looked upon with suspicion, as likely, after the example of their Mahommedan predecessors, to commence a crusade against their religious creed, so connected as it is with their laws of government; then, in the facility possessed by the pundits (or learned men) of imposing upon the ignorance of Europeans. It was, therefore, no small difficulty to administer strict justice, when everything was dependent alone upon native interpretation. Still, the remedy was within Sir William's reach, with time and diligence; and, if the study of what he calls that venerable and interesting language, which was once vernacular in India,' could enable him to master for himself the intricacies of ancient Hindû civil and religious laws, time should be found, and diligence of no ordinary kind should be used, to win his point.
The famous Warren Hastings, then GovernorGeneral of India, had done much to prepare the way for his investigations by his judicious treatment of the natives, and the respect gained from the Brahmins by his consummate tact, as well as by his reputation for learning. Hastings had, indeed, succeeded in obtaining a compilation of a code of laws by some pundits, and under their inspection had had a Persian version made. He had also procured a translation of the Bhagavadgita, a poem containing all the grand mysteries of the Brahminical faith, and