« PreviousContinue »
sion, I am not informed. In the following year he was regular in his attendance at Westminster-hall.' r. 139.
His literary fame had by this time widely circulated over the continent; and he was honoured with the correspondence and friendship, among other celebrated scholars, of Michaelis, Schultens, and Bayer. Towards the conclusion of another letter to the baron Reviczki he says, "after all, I could not think of accepting the Turkish embassy: I will live in my own country, which cannot easily spare good subjects;" and his biographer hence intimates that he had actually had an offer made to him of such an embassy. "From the manner," says he, "in which he mentions his renunciation of the embassy to Constantinople, it is evident that his attention was strongly fixed upon the political state of his own country." We have not the shadow of a proof that he was ever requested to accept such a post; and had the request been made, we are still persuaded that, so far from renouncing it, notwithstanding the above paragraph in his letter to M. Reviczki, he would most cheerfully have embraced it. The paragraph itself refers in all probability to a hope expressed by M. Reviczki, in a letter in answer to the first of Mr. Jones's, that the embassy he was panting for, and had flattered himself with expectations of obtaining, he had then actually been appointed to, which would afford to Reviczki an opportunity of enjoying an interview with his friend. This letter, however, is omitted; yet the expression in the last of Mr. Jones's obviously refers to some such paragraph contained in it, and to nothing more: it does not even glance at a renunciation.
In the practice of the bar Mr. Jones was by no means unsuccessful, though his success does not appear to have been equal to his abilities. Yet what with attendance in the courts, legal studies, arrangement of pleadings, trials of causes, and opinions to clients, his time seems to have been almost, if not altogether, exhausted. He nevertheless found leisure to translate from the Greek the speeches of Isæus concerning the law of succession; an exquisite specimen of transposition from one language to another, and still farther enriched by an admirable prefatory discourse, evincing an equal degree of taste and classical erudition. By this work his literary fame was still wider extended, but it does not appear that his legal practice was essentially advanced. It was dedicated to earl Bathurst, whom he declares to have been" his greatest, his only, benefactor," and from whom he flattered himself with higher advantages hereafter.
In the carlier period of his life, politics appear to have
afforded Mr. Jones no interest or amusement; but it was impossible to remain wholly insensible to their influence in the station he at this time occupied: independently of which, the contest with America had now occupied the attention and engaged the heart of every man. His views upon this subject appear to have been temperate, and strictly constitutional: from the following extract of a letter to his late pupil, lord Althorpe, he seems to have been attached to the cause of the Americans; and we offer it the more readily, as affording at the same time an intrinsic proof of the pure and excellent morality which had ever regulated his mind, and which he had uniformly, and we are happy to add successfully, inculcated as a tutor. The letter is dated from Bath:
I was this morning with Wilkes, who shewed me a letter lately written to him from Paris, by Diderot. As I have, you know, a quick memory, I brought away the substance of it, and give it to you in a translation almost literal." Friend Wilkes, it delights me to hear that you still have sufficient employment for your active mind, without which you cannot long be happy. I have just read the several speeches which you have delivered on the subject of your present war against the provincials; they are full of eloquence, force, and dignity. I too have composed a speech on the same subject, which I would deliver in your senate, had I a seat in it. I will wave for the present, my countrymen, all consideration of the justice or injustice of the measures you are pursuing; I well know that to be an improper topic at the time when the public welfare is immediately concerned. I will not even question at present your power to reduce an exasperated and desperate people; but consider, I entreat you, that you are surrounded by nations by whom you are detested; and say, for heaven's sake, how long you will give them reason to laugh at the ridiculous figure you are making. This is my harangue; it is short in words, but extensive in meaning"-So far, my dear lord, we have no reason to eensure the thoughts or expressions of the learned Encyclopedist; what follows is so profligate, that I would not transcribe it, if I were not sure that you would join with me in condemning it. "As to yourself (he adds) be cheerful, drink the best wines, keep the gayest company, and, should you be inclined to a tender passion, address yourself to such women as make the least resistance; they are as amusing and as interesting as others. One lives with them without anxiety, and quits them without regret."I want words, Diderot, to express the baseness, the folly, the brutality, of this sentiment. I am no cynic, but as fond as any man at Paris of cheerful company, and of such pleasures as a man of virtue need not blush to enjoy; but if the philosophy of the French academicians be comprised in your advice to your friend Wilkes, keep it to yourself, and to such as you. I am of a different sect. He concludes his letter with some professions of regard, and with a recommendation of a young Frenchman, who told Wilkes some speeches of Diderot to the empress of Russia, which you shall
hear at some other time. I am interrupted, and must leave you with reluctance till the morning. P. 152.
The following letter is addressed to the same noble personage; and while it still farther unfolds the excellence of the system of tuition upon which Mr. Jones had acted, and the warmth of his friendship for so amiable a pupil, it agreeably opens to us the extension of his own personal prospects, and a new theatre to which his laudable ambition was directed.
· Temple, Oct. 13, 1778.
My dear lord, captain, and friend (of all which titles no man entertains a juster idea than yourself), how shall I express the delight which your letter from Warley camp has given me? I cannot sufficiently regret that I was so long deprived of that pleasure: for, intending to be in London soon after the circuit, I had neglected to leave any directions here about my letters; so that yours has lain almost a month upon my table, where I found it yesterday on my return from the country. I ought indeed to have written first to you, because I was a rambler, you stationary, and because the pen has been my peculiar instrument, as the sword has been yours this summer; but the agitation of forensic business, and the sort of society in which I have been forced to live, afforded me few moments of leisure, except those in which nature calls for perfect repose, and the spirits, exhausted with fatigue, require immediate reparation. I rejoice to see that you are a votary, as Archilocus says of himself, both of the Muses and of Mars; nor do I believe that a letter full of more manly sentiments, or written with more unaffected elegance, than yours, has often been sent from a camp. You know I have set my mind on your being a fine speaker in next parliament, in the cause of true constitutional liberty; and your letters convince me that I shall not be disappointed. To this great object, both for your own glory and your country's good, your present military station will contribute not a little; for a soldier's life naturally inspires a certain spirit and confidence, without which the finest elocution will not have a full effect. Not to mention Pericles, Xenophon, Cæsar, and a hundred other eloquent soldiers among the ancients, I am persuaded that Pitt (whom by the way I am far from comparing to Pericles) acquired his forcible manner in the field where he carried the colours. This I mention in addition to the advantages of your present situation, which you very justly point out: nor can I think your summer in any respect uselessly spent, since our constitution has a good defence in a well-regulated militia, officered by men who love their country; and a militia so regulated may in due time be the means of thinning the formidable standing army, if not of extinguishing it. Captain *** is one of the worthiest, as well as tallest, men in the kingdom; but he, and his Socrates, Dr. Johnson, have such prejudices in politics, that one must be upon one's guard in their company, if one wishes to preserve their good opinion. By the way, the dean of Gloucester has printed a work, which he thinks a
full confutation of Locke's Theory of Government, and his second volume will contain a new theory of his own of this, when we meet. The disappointment to which you allude, and concerning which you say so many friendly things to me, is not yet certain. My competitor is not yet nominated: many doubt whether he will be: I think he will not, unless the chancellor should press it strongly. It is still the opinion and wish of the bar that I should be the man. I believe the minister hardly knows his own mind. I cannot legally be appointed till January, or next month at soonest, because I am not a barrister of five years standing till that time: now many believe that they keep the place open for me till I am qualified. I certainly wish to have it, because I wish to have twenty thousand pounds in my pocket before I am eight-and-thirty years old, and then I might contribute in some degree towards the service of my country in parliament, as well as at the bar, without selling my liberty to a patron, as too many of my profession are not ashamed of doing; and I might be a speaker in the house of commons in the full vigour and maturity of my age: whereas, in the slow career of Westminster-hall, I should not perhaps, even with the best success, acquire the same independent station till the age at which Cicero was killed. But be assured, my dear lord, that if the minister be offended at the style in which I have spoken, do speak, and will speak, of public affairs, and on that account should refuse to give me the judgeship, I shall not be at all mortified, having already a very decent competence without a debt, or a care of any kind. I will not break in upon you at Warley unexpectedly; but whenever you find it most convenient let me know, and I will be with you in less than two hours.' P. 161.
To what judgeship Mr. Jones, or to what supposed disappointment lord Althorpe, alludes in this letter, our author has not explained to us; neither are we able to collect from our own memory a satisfactory conjecture. We well know that, not more than a month or two after the date of this epistle, he began to entertain hopes of an appointment to a seat in the supreme court at Bengal; but, had this expectation been in his mind at the moment of writing the above letter, it is impossible he could have had the idea of entering into the house of commons, and successfully displaying his oratorical powers among the representatives of the people. Here again, however, his hopes were disappointed. Yet we must ascertain the causes of this disappointment from our own recollection, as we do not find them in the history before us. Lord North cajoled, but was not serious. In effect, we believe him to have had some wish to assist this exquisite and unrivalled scholar of his age; but he was disgusted with his political principles, which now began to develop themselves without restraint, and unre. servedly to embrace the cause of popular liberty. The vacancy was declared to be superseded; and Mr. Jones, incapable of farther suppressing his political feelings, gave full
vent to them in an Ode to Liberty, composed in Latin alcaics, under the anagrammatic name of Julius Melesigonus for Gulielmus Jonesius. The veil was soon seen through; the epigram unriddled. Yet nothing could be more unfortunate; for a vacancy in the house of commons, upon the resignation of sir Roger Newdigate, being likely to occur for the university of Oxford, Mr. Jones had a fair chance of succeeding upon his nomination by his friends, till the unlucky discovery of these elegant stanzas, which we well remember to be founded upon Collins's very beautiful Ode to Liberty, prevented all chance of his success in the line of representative, as the suspicion of his principles had done in that of judicial pre-eminence. In effect, he was compelled to appear as the popular candidate, and to trust his expectations to the superintendence of Mr. Cartwright, Dr. Price, Dr. Millman, Mr. Burrows, and Dr. Wheeler. He soon found his interest far inferior to that of sir William Dolben, his chief opponent; and, in a polite and temperate letter to his friend Dr. Wheeler, begged it might be generally communicated that he resigned for the present all pretensions to the honour of representing the university.
Perhaps no man was ever more attached to the cause of whiggism than he appears to have been from this period: prose and in verse he gives the most evident and incontestible proofs of it; and in the publication of a speech which he meaned to have delivered before the freeholders of Middlesex, had he had an opportunity, he thus consoles both himself and his friends upon his late want of success.
Had it been my good or bad fortune to have delivered in the great assembly of representatives the sentiments which this bosom contains, I am sensible that my public course of speaking and voting must have clashed in a variety of instances with my private obligations; and the conflict of interfering duties constitutes, in my opinion, the nicest part of morality, on which, however, I have completely formed my system, and trust that no views of interest will ever prevent my practice from coinciding with my theory.' P. 187.
About this time a private memorandum, in the handwriting of Mr. Jones, states the following as his literary resolution for his subsequent life.
Anno, Oct. 23.
Resolved to learn no more rudiments of any kind, but to perfect myself in, First, 12 languages, as the means of acquiring an accurate knowledge of the