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THE EARL OF CHATHAM TO THE HON. W. PITT.
Hayes, Sept. 22, 1777. How can I address my reviving pen so well as by addressing a few lines to the hope and comfort of my life, my dear William ? You will have pleasure to see, under my own hand, that I mend every day, and that I am all but well. I have been this morning to Campden Place, and sustained most manfully a visit, and all the idle talk thereof, for about an hour by Mr. Norman's clock, and returned home, untired, to dinner, where I eat like a farmer. Lord Mahon has confounded, not convinced, the incorrigible soidisant Dr. Wilson. Dr. Franklin's lightning, rebel as he is, stands proved the more innocent; and Wilson's nobs must yield to the pointed conductors. On Friday, Lord Mahon's indefatigable spirit is to exhibit another incendium to lord mayor, foreign ministers, and all lovers of philosophy and the good of society; and means to illuminate the horizon with a little bonfire of twelve hundred fagots and a double edifice. Had our dear friend been born sooner, Nero and the second Charles could never have amused themselves by reducing to ashes the two noblest cities in the world. My band begins to demand repose, so with my best compliments to Aristotle, Homer, Thucydides, Xenophon, not forgetting the Civilians, and the Law of Nations' tribe. Adieu, my dearest William. Your ever most affectionate father,
WILLIAM JONES, ESQ. TO ROBERT ORME, ESQ. DEAR SIR,
Duke Street, June 26th, 1773. I was never less pleased with the study of the law than at this moment, when my attendance at Westminster Hall prevents me from tbanking you in person for your most elegant and accept. able present, which shall ever be preserved amongst my literary treasures. Your history is not one of those books which a man reads once in a cursory manner, and then throws aside for ever ; there is no end of reading and approving of it, nor shall I ever desist giving myself that pleasure to the last year of my life. You may rely on this testimony, as it comes from one who not only was never guilty of flattery, but like Cæsar's wife, would never suffer himself to be suspected of it.
It is much to be regretted that the historical pieces of Lucceius are not preserved to us : by a letter or two of his, which are extant, he seems to have been a man of exquisite parts and taste. Cicero declares himself charmed with his way of writing, which makes me think that his works would have been far preferable to those of Sallust and Tacitus, whom I cannot help considering as the first corrupters of the Roman language and eloquence. As to our language, if yourself, and perhaps Lord Lyttleton, had not restored it to its native simplicity, we should soon have been reduced to a new dialect, &c. &c. I have been for the last five weeks at Oxford, where took the degree of Master of Arts in the regular course.
much pressed to speak at the ensuing encænia ; but when I had taken the pains to prepare an oration, in which there was nothing that could offend the most obsequious courtier, the persons who had urged me to write it were disappointed at not finding it a slavish compliment to the ministers, and exhorted me not to deliver it in the theatre without a great deal of softening, which determined me not to speak at all; but as I am pleased with the composition, which is written wholly in the manner of the ancients, I shall print a few copies for my friends. See the loquacity of us writers ; you honour me with three kind and indulgent lines, and I send you in return as many rambling pages : but when friends cannot converse in person, they have no resource but conversing at a distance. I am, with great truth, most sincerely yours,
WILLIAM JONES, ESQ. TO MR. GIBBON.
Lamb's Buildings, June 30th, 1781. I HAVE more than once sought, without having been so fortunate as to obtain a proper opportunity of thanking you very sincerely for the elegant compliment which you pay me, in a work abounding in elegance of all kinds.
My Seven Arabian Poets will see the light before next winter, and be proud to wait upon you in their English dress. Their wild productions will, I flatter myself, be thought interesting,
and not venerable merely on account of their antiquity.
In the mean while, let me request you to honour me with accepting a copy of a law tract, which is not yet published; the subject is so generally important, that I make no apology for sending you a professional work.
You must pardon my inveterate hatred of C. Octavianus, basely surnamed Augustus. I feel myself unable to forgive the death of Cicero, which, if he did not promote, he inight have prevented. Besides, even Mecænas knew the cru, elty of his disposition, and ventured to reproach him with it. In short, I have not Christian charity for him.
With regard to Asiatic letters, à necessary attention to my profession will compel me wholly and eternally to abandon them, unless Lord North (to whom I am already under no small obligation) should think me worthy to concur in the improved administration of justice in Bengal, and should appoint me to supply the vacancy on the India bench. Were that appointment to take place this year, I should probably travel, for speed, through part of Egypt and Arabia, and should be able, in my way, to procure many eastern tracts of literature and jurisprudence. I might become a good Mahomedan lawyer before I reached Calcutta, and, in my vacations, should find leisure to explain, in my native language, whatever the Arabs, Persians, and Turks have written on science, history, and the fine arts.
My happiness by no means depends on obtaining this appointment, as I am in easy circumstances
without my profession, and have flattering prospects in it; but if the present summer and the ensuing autumn elapse without my receiving any answer, favourable or unfavourable, I shall be forced to consider that silence as a polite refusal, and, having given sincere thanks for past favours, shall entirely drop all thoughts of Asia, and, “ deep as ever plummet sounded, shall drown my Persian books.” If my politics have given offence, it would be manly in ministers to tell me
I shall never be personally hostile to them, nor enlist under party banners of any colour; but I will never resign my opinions for interest, though I would cheerfully abandon them on conviction. My reason, such as it is, can only be controlled by better reason, to which I am ever open. As to my freedom of thought, speech, and action, I shall say what Charles XII. wrote under the map of Riga, “ Dieu me l'a donnée, la diable ne me l'ôtera pas.” But the fair answer to this objection is, that my system is purely speculative, and has no relation to my seat on the bench in India, where I should hardly think of instructing the Gentoos in the maxims of the Athenians. I believe I should not have troubled you with this letter, if I did not fear that your attendance in parliament might deprive me of the pleasure of meeting you at the club next Tuesday ; and I shall go to Oxford a few days after. At all times, and in all places, I shall ever be, with undissembled regard, dear sir, your much obliged and faithful servant,