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of bankrupts. He was at this time a member of the Royal Society, and maintained an epistolary correspondence with several eminent foreign scholars. Among those correspondents, his favourite seems to have been Reviczki, an Oriental scholar, whom he: met in England, and who was afterwards the impe: rial minister at Warsaw.
From the commencement of the American war, and during its whole progress, Mr. Jones's political principles led him to a decided disapprobation of the measures of government, which were pursued in that contest. But though politically opposed to Lord North, he possessed so much of the personal favour of that minister, as to have some hopes of obtaining, by his influence, a seat on the Bench of Fort William, in Bengal, which became vacant in the year 1780. While this matter was in suspense, he was advised to stand as a candidate for the representation of the University of Oxford; but finding there was no chance of success, he declined the contest before the day of election; his political principles, and an “ Ode to Liberty," which he had published, having offended the majority of the academic voters. During the riots of 1780, he published a plan for security against insurrection, and for defence against invasion, which has since been realized in the volunteer system. . During the same year, he paid a short visit to Paris ; and, at one time, intended to have proceeded to America, for a professional object, namely, to procure for a client and friend the restitution of an estate, which the government of the United States had confiscated. The indisposition of his friend, however, prevented him from crossing the Atlantic. On his return to England, he recurred to his favourite Oriental studies; and completed a translation of the seven ancient Arabian poems, famous for having been once suspended in the Temple of Mecca; as well as another poem, in the same language, more curious than inviting in its subject, which was the Mahomedan law of succession to intestates. The latter work had but few charms to reward his labour; but it gave him an opportunity for displaying his literary and legal fitness for the station in India, to which he still aspired.
Besides retracing his favourite studies with the Eastern Muses, we find him at this period warmly engaged in political as well as professional pursuits. An “Essay on the Law of Bailments," an“ Address to the Inhabitants of Westminster on Parliamentary Reform;” these publications, together with occasional pieces of poetry, which he wrote within the last years of his residence in England, attest at once the vigour and elegance of his mind, and the variety of its application.
On the succession of the Shelburne administration, he obtained, through the particular interest of Lord Ashburton, the judicial office in Bengal, for which he had been hitherto an unsuccessful competitor. In March, 1783, he received the honour of knighthood. In the April following he married Anna Maria Ship.
ley, the daughter of the Bishop of St. Asaph, to whom he had been so many years attached. He immediately sailed for India, having secured, as his friend Lord Ashburton congratulated him, the two first objects of human pursuit, those of love and ambition. The joy with which he contemplated his situation, is strongly testified in the descriptions of his feelings, which he gives in his letters, and in the gigantic plans of literature which he sketched out. Happily married; still in the prime of life; leaving at home a reputation, which had reached the hemisphere he was to visit, he bade adieu to the turbulence of party politics, which, though it had not dissolved any of his friendships, had made some of them irk. some. The scenes, which he had delighted to contemplate at a distance, were now inviting his closest researches! He approached regions and manners, which gave a living picture of antiquity; and, while his curiosity was heightened, he drew nearer to the means of its gratification.
In December, 1783, he commenced the discharge of his duties as an Indian judge, with his character. istic ardour. He also began the study of Sanscrit. He had been but a few years in India, when his knowledge of that ancient language enabled him, under the auspices of the Governor, to commence a great plan for administering justice among the Indians, by compiling a digest of Hindu and Mahometan laws, similar to that which Justinian gave his Greek and Roman subjects. His part in the project was only to survey and arrange its materials. To that superintendance the Bralımins themselves submitted with perfect confidence. To detail his share in the labours of the Society of Calcutta, the earliest, or at least the most important, philosophical society established in British India, would be almost to abridge its transactions during his lifetime. He took the lead in founding it, and lived to see three volumes of its Transactions appear. In 1789 he translated the ancient Hindu drama, “ Sacontala; or the Fatal Ring,” by Callidas, an author whom Sir William Jones calls the Shakspeare of India, and who lived about the time of Terence, in the first century before the Christian era. This antique picture of Hindu manners is certainly the greatest curiosity which the study of Oriental literature by Europeans has brought to light. In 1794 he published, also from the Sanscrit, a translation of the Ordinances of Menu, who is esteemed, by the Hindoos, to be the earliest of created beings, and the holiest of legislators; but who appears, by the English translator's confession, to have lived long after priests, statesmen, and metaphysicians had learned to com- · bine their crafts.
While business required his daily attendance at Calcutta, his usual residence was on the banks of the Ganges, at the distance of five miles from the court. To this spot he returned every evening after sunset; and, in the morning, rose so early as to reach his apartments in time, by setting out on foot
at the first appearance of dawn. He passed the · months of vacation at Chrishnagur, a country residence, sixty miles from Calcutta, remarkable for its beauty, and interesting, from having been the seat of an ancient Hindu college. Here he added botany to the other pursuits of his indefatigable curiosity.
In the burning climate of Bengal, it is not surprising that the strongest constitution should have sunk under the weight of his professional duties, and of his extensive literary labours. The former alone occupied him seven hours during the session time. His health, indeed, seems to have been early affected in India. In 1793, the indisposition of Lady Jones rendered it necessary that she should return to England. Sir William proposed to follow her in 1795, delaying only till he should complete the system of Indian legislation. But they parted to meet no more. In 1794 he was attacked with an
inflammation of the liver, which acted with uncommon rapidity; and, before a physician was called in, had advanced too far to yield to the efficacy of medicine. He expired in a composed attitude, without a groan, or the appearance of a pang; and retained an expression of complacency on his features to the last.
In the course of a short life, Sir William Jones acquired a degree of knowledge, which the ordinary faculties of men, if they were blest with antediluvian longevity, could scarcely hope to surpass. His learning threw light on the laws of Greece and