1842 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Jones

C. H. Timperley, in Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:806n.



Sir William Jones was born in London, in 1748, and educated at Oxford, where to his classical pursuits he added the study of Persic and Arabic, but also the Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. In 1770, he entered on the study of the law at the Temple. In 1783 he obtained the appointment of a judge in the supreme court at Calcutta, and the honour of knighthood on this occasion, and married Anna Maria Shipley, daughter of the bishop of St. Asaph. In April of that year he embarked for India, and on the voyage projected the establishment of a society in Bengal, for the purpose of illustrating oriental antiquities and literature. The volumes of its transactions are inestimable, and are enriched by several valuable productions from his pen. As judge he was indefatigable and impartial. He studied the native laws of the country, and became so versed in the Sanscrit and the codes of the Brahmins, as to gain the admiration of the most learned men in that country. Though eminent as an original scholar, sir William also wrote some lyric pieces of great beauty, which are much admired, and have added to our current phraseology a few highly energetic and beautiful expressions. His Ode in Imitation of Alcaeus, is a heart-stirring effusion of patriotism. This excellent man died in India, April 2, 1794. His works were collected and published in 6 vols. 4to. 1799, and his Life, written by sir John Shore, Lord Teignmouth, in one vol. 4to. in 1804. A beautiful monument has been erected to his memory in St. Paul's cathedral, by the East India company.