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men and manners than on objects which he might have studied with equal advantage at home. We find him decyphering Chinese, and composing a tragedy. The tragedy has been irrecoverably lost. Its subject was the death of Mustapha, the son of Soliman; the same on which Fulk Greville, Lord Brooke, composed a drama.
On his return to England, he determined to embrace the law as a profession, the study of which he commenced in 1771, being then in his twentyfourth year. His motives for choosing this profession are best explained in his own words. In a letter to his friend Schultens, he avows at once the public ambition and personal pride which had now grown up with the maturity of his character. “ The die” (he says)“ is cast. All my books and “ MSS., with the exception of those only which “ relate to law and oratory, are locked up at Oxford; 66 and I have determined, for the next twenty years " at least, to renounce all studies but those which
are connected with my profession. It is needless " to trouble
my reasons at length for this “ determination. I will only say, that if I had lived “ at Rome or Athens, I should have preferred the “ labours, studies, and dangers of their orators and “ illustrious citizens, connected as they were with “ banishment and even death, to the groves of the
poets, or the gardens of the philosophers. Here “ I adopt the same resolution “ If the study of the law were really unpleasant and
“ disgusting, which is far from the truth, the ex“ample of the wisest of the ancients, and of Minerva, “ would justify me in preferring the useful olive to " the barren laurel. To tell you my mind freely, I
am not of a disposition to bear the arrogance of “men of rank, to which poets and men of letters
are so often obliged to submit.”
This letter was written some years after he had resigned his situation in Lord Spencer's family; and entered himself of the Middle Temple. In the mean time, though the motives which guided him to the choice of a profession undoubtedly made him in earnest with his legal studies, he still found spare hours to devote to literature. He finished his tragedy of Mustapha, and sketched two very ambitious plans; the one of an epic poem, the other of a Turkish history. That he could have written an useful and amusing history of Turkey, is easy to supposé; but the outline, and the few specimens of his intended epic, leave little room for regret that it was not finished. Its subject was the discovery of Britain ; the characters Tyrian, and the machinery allegorical, in the manner of Spenser. More unpromising symptoms of a poem could hardly be announced.
In 1772 he published his French letter to Du Perron, the French traveller, who, in his account of his travels in India, had treated the University of Oxford, and some of its members, with disrespect. In this publication, he corrected the French writer,
perhaps, with more asperity than his maturer judgment would have approved. In the same year he published a small volume of poems, with two dissertations; one on Oriental literature, and another on the arts commonly called imitative. In his Essay on the Arts, he objects, on very fair grounds, to the Aristotelian doctrine, of the universal object of poetry being imitation. Certainly, no species of poetry can strictly be said to be imitative of nature except that which is dramatic. Mr. Twining, the translator of the “ Poetics,” has, however, explained this theory of Aristotle pretty satisfactorily, by shewing, that when he spoke of poetry as imitative, he alluded to what he conceived to be the highest department of the art, namely, the drama; or to the dramatic part of epic poetry, the dialogue, which, in recitation, afforded an actual imitation of the passions which were described.
When Mr. Jones had been called to the bar, he found that no human industry could effectively unite the pursuits of literature with the practice of the profession. He therefore took the resolution, already alluded to in one of his letters, of abstaining from all study, but that of the science and eloquence of the bar. He thought, however, that consistently with this resolution, he might translate“ the Greek “Orations of Isæus, in cases relating to succession “ to doubtful property." This translation appeared in 1778. In the interval, his practice became considerable; and he was made, in 1776, a commissioner 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 imperial 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 volun. teer 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.