Page images
PDF
EPUB

leaving Harrow school, he learned the Arabic pursued the study of German, and availed himcharacters, and studied the Hebrew language, self of the opportunity of finding an incomparaso as to enable him to read some of the original ble teacher of dancing, whose name was Janson. Psalms. What would have been labour to others, In the following year, he was requested by the was Jones's amusement. He used to relax his secretary of the Duke of Grafton to undertake mind with Philidor's Lessons at Chess, and with a task in which no other scholar in ngland was studying botany and fossils.

found willing to engage, namely, in furnishing a In his eighteenth year he was entered of Uni version of an eastern MS. a life of Nadir Shaw, versity college, Oxford, where his residence was which the King of Denmark had brought with rendered more agreeable by his mother taking him to England, and which his Danish majesty up her abode in the town. He was also, for was anxious to have translated into French. tunately, permitted by his teachers to forsake Mr. Jones undertook the translation from a the study of dialectic logic, which still haunted laudable reluctance to allow the MS. to be carthe college, for that of Oriental literature ; and ried out of the country for want of a translator ; he was so zealous in this pursuit, that he brought although the subject was dry, and the style of from London to Oxford a native of Aleppo, | the original difficult, and although it obliged hinu whom he maintained at his own expense, for to submit his translation to a native of France, the benefit of his instructions in Arabic. He in order to give it the idioms of a French style. also began the study of modern Persic, and He was at this time only twenty-one years of found his exertions rewarded with rapid success. age. The only reward which he obtained for His vacations were spent in London, where he his labour was a diploma from the Royal Society attended schools for riding and fencing, and of Copenhagen, and a recommendation from the studied Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. He court of Denmark to his own sovereign. To the pursued in theory, and even exceeded in prac History of Nadir Shaw” he added a treatise of tice, the plan of education projected by Milton ; his own on Oriental poetry, in the language of and boasted, that with the fortune of a peasant, the translation. In the same year, he began the he could give himself the education of a prince. study of music, and took some lessons on the He obtained a fellowship at Oxford ; but before Welsh harp. he obtained it, whilst he was yet fearful of his In 1770 he again visited the Continent with success, and of burthening the slender finances the Spencer family, and travelled into Italy. of an affectionate mother for his support, he | The genius which interests us at home redoubles accepted the situation of tutor to Lord Althorp, its interest on foreign ground ; but it would the son of Earl Spencer. In the summer of appear, from Jones's letters, that, in this in1765, he repaired to Wimbledon Park, to take stance, he was too assiduous a scholar to be an upon himself the charge of his young pupil. amusing traveller. His mind, during this vist He had not been long in Lord Spencer's family, to the Continent, was less intent on men ami when he was flattered by an offer from the manners than on objects which he might have Duke of Grafton, of the place of interpreter of studied with equal advantage at home. We Eastern languages. This situation, though it find him deciphering Chinese, and composing a might not ha interfered with his other pur- | tragedy. The tragedy has been irrecoverably suits, he thought fit to decline; but earnestly lost. Its subject was the death of Mustapha, requested that it might be given to his Syrian the son of Soliman; the same on which Fulke teacher, Mirza, whose character he wrote. The Greville, Lord Brooke, composed a drama*. solicitation was, however, unnoticed; and the On his return to England, he determined to event only gave him an opportunity of regretting embrace the law as a profession, the study of his own ignorance of the world, in not accepting which he commenced in 1771, being then in his the proffered office that he might consign its twenty-fourth year. His motives for choosing emoluments to Mirza. At Wimbledon he first this profession are best explained in his owu formed his acquaintance with the daughter of Dr. words. In a letter to his friend Schultens, be Shipley, the Dean of Winchester, to which he avows at once the public ambition and persunai owed the future happiness of his life. The pride which had now grown up with the matsensuing winter, 1766, he removed with Lord rity of his character. “ The die” (he says) * is Spencer's family to London, where he renewed cast. All my books and MSS., with the excep his pursuit of external as well as intellectual tion of those only which relate to law and oraaccomplishments, and received lessons from tory, are locked up at Oxford ; and I have de Gallini as well as Angelo. It is amusing to find termined, for the next twenty years at least, to his biographer add that he took lessons at the renounce all studies but those which are cubbroad-sword from an old Chelsea pensioner, nected with my profession. It is needless to seamed with scars, to whose military narrations trouble you with my reasons at length for this he used to listen with delight.

determination. I will only say, that if I had In 1767 he made a short trip with the family

(* Mallet has a drama on the same subject, but it is of his pupil to the Continent, where, at Spa, he still a subject to let.)

lived at Rome or Athens, I should have pre of the profession. He therefore took the resolu. ferred the labours, studies, and dangers of their tion, already alluded to in one of his letters, of orators and illustrious citizens, connected as abstaining from all study, but that of the science they were with banishment and even death, to and eloquence of the bar. He thought, however, the groves of the poets, or the gardens of the that consistently with this resolution, he might philosophers. Here I adopt the same resolu translate “ The Greek Orations of Isæus, in cases tion

If the study of relating to succession to doubtful property." the law were really unpleasant and disgusting, This translation appeared in 1778. In the interwhich is far from the truth, the example of the val, his practice became considerable ; and he wisest of the ancients and of Minerva would jus was made, in 1776, a commissioner of bankrupts. tify me in preferring the useful olive to the bar. He was at this time a member of the Royal ren laurel. To tell you my mind freely, I am Society, and maintained an epistolary corresponnot of a disposition to bear the arrogance of men dence with several eminent foreign scholars, of rank, to which poets and men of letters are so Among those correspondents, his favourite seems often obliged to submit."

to have been Reviczki, an Oriental scholar, whom This letter was written some years after he he met in England, and who was afterwards the had resigned his situation in Lord Spencer's Imperial minister at Warsaw. family, and entered himself of the Middle Temple. From the commencement of the American In the mean time, though the motives which guided war, and during its whole progress, Mr. Jones's him to the choice of a profession undoubtedly political principles led him to a decided disappromade him in earnest with his legal studies, he bation of the measures of government which still found spare hours to devote to literature. were pursued in that contest. But though politiHe finished his tragedy of Mustapha, and sketched cally opposed to Lord North, he possessed so two very ambitious plans; the one of an epic much of the personal favour of that minister, as poem, the other of a Turkish history. That he to have some hopes of obtaining, by his influence, could have written a useful and amusing history a seat on the Bench of Fort William, in Bengal, of Turkey, is easy to suppose ; but the outline, which became vacant in the year 1780. While and the few specimens of his intended epic, leave this matter was in suspense, he was advised to little room for regret that it was not finished. stand as a candidate for the representation of the Its subject was the discovery of Britain ; the University of Oxford ; but finding there was no characters Tyrian, and the machinery allegori chance of success, he declined the contest before cal, in the manner of Spenser. More uppro. the day of election; his political principles, and mising symptoms of a poem could harılly be an“ Ode to Liberty,” which he had published, announced.

having offended the majority of the academic In 1772 he published his French letter to Du voters. During the riots of 1780, he published Perron, the French traveller, who, in his account a plan for security against insurrection, and for of his travels in India, had treated the University defence against invasion, which has since been of Oxford, and some of its members, with disre realised in the volunteer system. During the spect. In this publication, he corrected the same year, he paid a short visit to Paris ; and, French writer, perhaps, with more asperity than at one time, intended to have proceeded to his maturer judgment would have approved. In America, for a professional object, namely, to the same year he published a small volume of

procure for a client and friend the restitution of poems, with two dissertations ; one on Oriental an estate, which the government of the United literature, and another on the arts commonly States had confiscated. The indisposition of his called imitative. In his Essay on the Arts, he friend, however, prevented him from crossing objects, on very fair grounds, to the Aristotelian the Atlantic. On his return to England, he doctrine, of the universal object of poetry being recurred to his favourite Oriental studies, and imitation. Certainly, no species of poetry can completed a translation of the seven ancient strictly be said to be imitative of nature except Arabian poems, famous for having been once that which is dramatic. Mr. Twining, the trans suspended in the Temple of Mecca; as well as lator of the “Poetics,” has, however, explained another poem, in the same language, more curious this theory of Aristotle pretty satisfactorily, by than inviting in its subject, which was the Mashowing, that when he spoke of poetry as imita homedan law of succession to intestates. The tive, he alluded to what he conceived to be the latter work had but few charms to reward his highest department of the art, namely, the labour ; but it gave him an opportunity for disdrama; or to the dramatic part of epic poetry, playing his literary and legal fitness for the station the dialogue, which, in recitation, afforded an in India to which he still aspired. actual imitation of the passions which were Besides retracing his favourite studies with described.

the Eastern Muses, we find him at this period When Mr. Jones had been called to the bar, warmly engaged in political as well as professional he found that no human industry could effectively pursuits. An“Essay on the Law of Bailments," unite the pursuits of literature with the practice, an Address to the Inhabitants of Westminster

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

on Parliamentary Reform ;” these publications, to light. In 1794 he published, also from the together with occasional pieces of poetry, which Sanscrit, a translation of the Ordinances of Menu, he wrote within the last years of his residence who is esteemed, by the Hindoos, to be the earliest in England, attest at once the vigour and ele- of created beings, and the holiest of legislators ; gance of his mind, and the variety of its applica- but who appears, by the English translator's con tion.

fession, to have lived long after priests, statesinen, On the succession of the Shelburne adminis- and metaphysicians had learned to combine their tration, he obtained, through the particular crafts. interest of Lord Ashburton, the judicial office in While business required his daily attendance Bengal for which he had been hitherto an unsuc at Calcutta, his usual residence was on the banks Cessful competitor. In March 1783, he received of the Ganges, at the distance of five miles from the honour of knighthood. In the April follow the court. To this spot he returned every evening he married Anna Maria Shipley, the daughter ing after sunset ; and, in the morning, rose so of the Bishop of St. Asaph, to whom he had been early as to reach his apartments in time, by setting so many years attached. He immediately sailed out on foot at the first appearance of dawn. He for India, having secured, as his friend Lord passed the months of vacation at Chrishnagur, a Ashburton congratulated him, the two first objects country residence, sixty miles from Calcutta, reof human pursuit, those of love and ambition. markable for its beauty, and interesting, from The joy with which he contemplated his situation having been the seat of an ancient Hindu college. is strongly testified in the descriptions of his feel Here he added botany to the other pursuits of ings which he gives in his letters, and in the his indefatigable curiosity. gigantic plans of literature which he sketched In the burning climate of Bengal, it is not out. Happily married-still in the prime of life surprising that the strongest constitution should leaving at home a reputation which had reached have sunk under the weight of his professional the hemisphere he was to visit, he bade adieu to duties, and of his extensive literary labours. The the turbulence of party politics, which, though it former alone occupied him seven hours during had not dissolved any of his friendships, had made the session time. His health, indeed, seems to some of them irksome. The scenes which he have been early affected in India. In 1793, the had delighted to contemplate at a distance were indisposition of Lady Jones rendered it necessary now inviting his closest researches ! He ap that she should return to England. Sir William proached regions and manners which gave a proposed to follow her in 1795, delaying only till living picture of antiquity; and, while his curiosity he should complete the system of Indian legislawas heightened, he drew nearer to the means of tion. But they parted to meet no more. In its gratification.

1794 he was attacked with an inflammation of In December 1783, he commenced the dis- the liver, which acted with uncommon rapidity; charge of his duties as an Indian judge, with his and, before a physician was called in, had adcharacteristic ardour. He also began the study vanced too far to yield to the efficacy of medicine. of Sanscrit. He had been but a few years in He expired in a composed attitude, without a India, when his knowledge of that ancient lan- groan, or the appearance of a pang; and retained guage enabled him, under the auspices of the an expression of complacency on his features to Governor, to commence a great plan for adminis- the last. tering justice among the Indians, by compiling a In the course of a short life, Sir William Jones digest of Hindu and Mahometan laws, similar to acquired a degree of knowledge which the urdithat which Justinian gave his Greek and Roman nary faculties of men, if they were blest with subjects. His part in the project was only to antediluvian longevity, could scarcely hope to survey and arrange its materials. To that super- surpass. His learning threw light on the la** intendence the Brahmins themselves submitted of Greece and India, on the general literature of with perfect confidence. To detail his share in Asia

, and on the history of the family of nativas

. I the labours of the Society of Calcutta, the earliest, He carried philosophy, eloquence, and philanor at least the most important, philosophical thropy into his character of a lawyer and a society established in British India, would be judge. Amidst the driest toils of erudition, he almost to abridge its Transactions during his life- / retained a sensibility to the beauties of poetry, time. He took the lead in founding it, and lived and a talent for transfusing them into his own to see three volumes of its 'Transactions appear. language, which has seldom been united with the In 1789 he translated the ancient Hindu drama, same degree of industry. Had he written nothing “ Sacontala, or the Fatal Ring,” by Callidas, an but the delightful ode from Hafiz, author whom Sir William Jones calls the Shak

“Sweet maid, if thou wouldst charm my sight," speare of India, and who lived about the time of Terence, in the first century before the Christian it would alone testify the harmony of his ear, and era. This antique picture of Hindu manners is the elegance of his taste. When he went abroad, certainly the greatest curiosity which the study it was not to enrich himself with the spoils of of Oriental literature by Europeans has brought avarice or ambition ; but to search, amidst the

ruins of Oriental literature, for treasures which our particular admiration, and translates, in he would not have exchanged

pompous lyrical diction, the Indian description of " For all Bokhara's vaunted gold,

Cumara, the daughter of Ocean, riding upon a Or all the gems of Samarcand."

peacock ; and enjoins us to admire, as an allegory

equally new and beautiful, the unimaginable conIt is, nevertheless, impossible to avoid supposing, ceit of Camdeo, the Indian Cupid, having a bow that the activity of his mind spread itself in too that is made of flowers, and a bowstring which many directions to be always employed to the

is a string of bees. Industrious as he was, his best advantage. The impulse that carried him history is full of abandoned and half-executed through so many pursuits, has a look of something projects. While his name reflects credit on restless, inordinate, and ostentatious. Useful as

poetical biography, his secondary fame as a comhe was, he would in all probability have been

poser shows, that the palm of poetry is not likely still more so, had his powers been concentrated

to be won, even by great genius, without exclusive to fewer objects. His poetry is sometimes ele

devotion to the pursuit*.-gant ; but altogether, it has too much of the florid

'Αλλά ούπως άμα πάντα δυνήσεαι αυτός ελέσθαι; luxury of the East. His taste would appear, in

'Αλλω μεν γαρ έδωκε θεός πολεμήϊα έργα, , his latter years, to have fallen into a state of

"Αλλω δε ορχηστών, ετέρω κίθαριν και αοιδών. Brahminical idolatry, when he recommends to

ILIAD. xiv. 729.

A PERSIAN SONG OF HAFIZ.

But, ah! sweet maid, my counsel hear
(Youth should attend when those advise
Whom long experience renders sage):
While music charms the ravish'd ear ;
While sparkling cups delight our eyes,
Be gay; and scorn the frowns of age.

What cruel answer have I heard ?
And yet, by Heaven, I love thee still :
Can aught be cruel from thy lip ?
Yet say, how fell that bitter word
From lips which streams of sweetness fill,
Which nought but drops of honey sip?

Sweet maid, if thou wouldst charm my sight,
And bid these arms thy neck infold ;
That rosy cheek, that lily hand,
Would give thy poet more delight
Than a}} Bokhara's vaunted gold,
Than all the gems of Samarcand.
Boy, let yon liquid ruby flow,
And bid thy pensive heart be glad,
Whate'er the frowning zealots say :
Tell them, their Eden cannot show
A stream so clear as Rocnabad,
A bower so sweet as Mosellay.
Oh! when these fair perfidious maids,
Whose eyes our secret haunts infest,
Their dear destructive charms display ;
Each glance my tender breast invades,
And robs my wounded soul of rest,
As Tartars seize their destined prey.
In vain with love our bosoms glow :
Can all our tears, can all our sighs,
New lustre to those charms impart?
Can cheeks, where living roses blow,
Where nature spreads her richest dyes,
Require the borrow'd gloss of art ?
Speak not of fate : ah ! change the theme,
And talk of odours, talk of wine,
Talk of the flowers that round us bloom :
"Tis all a cloud, 'tis all a dream;
To love and joy thy thoughts confine,
Nor hope to pierce the sacred gloom.

Go boldly forth, my simple lay,
Whose accents flow with artless ease,
Like orient pearls at random strung:
Thy notes are sweet, the damsels say ;
But, oh ! far sweeter, if they please
The nymph for whom these notes are sung.

AN ODE.

IN IMITATION OF ALCÆUS.

WHAT constitutes a State !
Not high-raised battlement or labour'd mound,

Thick wall or moated gate ;
Not cities proud with spires and turrets crown'd;

Not bays and broad-arm'd ports,
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride;

Not starr'd and spangled courts,
Where low-brow'd baseness wafts perfume to pride.

No :-men, high-minded men,
With powers as far above dull brutes endued

In forest, brake, or den,
As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude ;

Beauty has such resistless power,
That even the chaste Egyptian dame
Sigh'd for the blooming Hebrew boy :
For her how fatal was the hour,
When to the banks of Nilus came
A youth so lovely and so coy!

[* It is not Sir William Jones's poetry that can perpetuate his name --SOUTHEY, Quarterly Review, vol. xi. p. 502.)

Men, who their duties know,

And e'en th' all-dazzling Crown But know their rights, and, knowing, dare maintain, Hides his faint rays, and at her bidding shrinks. Prevent the long-aim'd blow,

Such was this heaven-loved isle, And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain : Than Lesbos fairer and the Cretan shore ! These constitute a State,

No more shall Freedom smile! And sovereign Law, that state's collected will, Shall Britons languish, and be men no more ! O'er thrones and globes elate

Since all must life resign, Sits Empress, crowning good, repressing ill ; Those sweet rewards, which decorate the brave, Smit by her sacred frown,

'Tis folly to decline, The fiend Discretion like a vapour sinks,

And steal inglorions to the silent grave.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

SAMUEL BISHOP.

(Born, 1731. Died, 1795.)

Samuel Bishop was a clergyman, and for Latin pieces, entitled “ Feriæ Poeticæ." A romany years the head master of Merchant Tailors' | lume of his sermons, and two volumes of his school. He wrote several essays and poems for poetry, were published after his death. the Public Ledger, and published a volume of

TO MRS. BISHOP.

WITH A PRESENT OF A KNIFE.

TO THE SAME ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF HER WEDDING-DAY, WHICH WAS

ALSO HER BIRTH-DAY, WITH A RING,

* A KNIFE," dear girl,"cuts love," they say ! Mere modish love, perhaps it may

- For any tool, of any kind,
Can separate—what was never join'd.

The knife, that cuts our love in two,
Will have much tougher work to do ;
Must cut your softness, truth, and spirit,
Down to the vulgar size of merit;
To level yours, with modern taste,
Must cut a world of sense to waste ;
And from your single beauty's store,
Clip, what would dizen out a score.

That self-same blade from me must sever
Sensation, judgment, sight, for ever :
All memory of endearments past,
All hope of comforts long to last ;-
All that makes fourteen years with you,
A summer ;-and a short one too ;-
All, that affection feels and fears,
When hours without you seem like years.

Till that be done, (and I'd as soon
Believe this knife will chip the moon,)
Accept my present, undeterr'd,
And leave their proverbs to the herd.

If in a kiss-delicious treat!-
Your lips acknowledge the receipt,
Love, fond of such substantial fare,
And proud to play the glutton there,
All thoughts of cutting will disdain,
Save only—“ cut and come again.”'

Thee, Mary, with this ring I wed"-
So, fourteen years ago, I said.-
Behold another ring ! " for what ?"
“ To wed thee o'er again ?"_Why not?

With that first ring I married youth,
Grace, beauty, innocence, and truth;
Taste long admired, sense long revered,
And all my Molly then appear'd.

If she, by merit since disclosed,
Prove twice the woman I supposed,
I plead that double merit now,
To justify a double vow.

Here then to-day, (with faith as sure,
With ardour as intense, as pure,
As when, amidst the rites divine,
I took thy troth, and plighted mine,)
To thee, sweet girl, my second ring
A token and a pledge I bring :
With this I wed, till death us part,
Thy riper virtues to my heart;
Those virtues, which before untried,
The wife has added to the bride:
Those virtues, whose progressive claim,
Endearing wedlock's very name,
My soul enjoys, my song approves,
For conscience' sake, as well as love's

And why ?- They show me every hour, Honour's high thought, Affection's power, Discretion's deed, sound Judgment's sentence, And teach me all things--but repentance.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »