1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Jones

Herbert Barton, in Mirror of Poesy (1826) 403.



His erudition was great, and rarely equalled; scarcely any subject of human research escaped his notice. He was eminently distinguished as a linguist, having studied eight and twenty languages, and eight of them critically. His acquaintance with the history, philosophy, laws, religion, manners, and sciences of nations, ancient and modern, was most extensive and profound. As a votary of the muses he is almost equally celebrated; and his original pieces, particularly the nine hymns to the Hindoo deities, are decorated with all the ornaments of lyric poetry; the versification is harmonious, and many of the images are at once sublime and beautiful. His lighter effusions display much taste and elegance; and are universal favourites.

The private virtues of this great man were not inferior to his intellectual endowments. As a son, a husband, a friend, and a citizen, he fulfilled every duty in an exemplary manner; his integrity in the exercise of his judicial office was above all suspicion, and his whole conduct bespoke a manly and independent spirit. A rational and exalted piety crowned the whole; nor did the liberal view which he took of religions in general, impair his conviction of the truth and importance of the Christian Revelation.