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THE LONDON MAGAZINE.
SIR WILLIAM JONES'S CHARGE TO THE GRAND JURY, AT CALCUTTA, 4th DEC. 1783.
Gentlemen of the Grand Jury, T might perhaps be fufficient, if my addrefs to you this day were confined to fome fhort remarks on thofe offences, of which the prifoners named in the calendar are accufed; but fuch is the particularity of my own fituation, that I cannot help feeling an inclination to take a wider range. Six years have elapfed fince the feat, which I have now the honour to fill, became vacant; and, in that interval, fo many important events have happened in India, and fo many interefting debates have been held in the parliament of Britain on the powers and objects of this judicature, that I may naturally be expected to touch at least, though not to enlarge, on thofe events, all of which I have attentively confidered; and on the refult of thofe debates, at moft of which I was prefent. Such expectations, if fuch have been formed, I fhould be very loath to difappoint; and, as I fhall exprefs my fentiments without referve, you will hear them, I am confident, with perfect candour.
None of you, I hope, will fufpect me of political zeal for any fet of minifters in England, with which vice my mind has never been infected-nor of political attachments here, which in my station it will ever behove me to disclaim - if, in the character of a magiftrate appointed to preferve the public tranquillity, I congratulate you, who are affembled to enquire into all violations of it, on the happy profpect of a general peace in every part of the world with which our country is connected. The certain fruits of this pacification will be the revival and extenfion of commerce in all the dependencies of Britain, the improvement of agriculture and manufactures, the encouragement of industry and civil virtue; by which her revenues will be
restored, and her navy ftrengthened, her fubjects enriched, and herself exalted. But it is to India that she looks
for the moft fplendid, as well as most fubftantial of thofe advantages: nor can fhe be disappointed, as long as the fupreme executive and judicial powers fhall concur in promoting the public good, without danger of collifion, or diminution of each other's dignity; without impediment, on the one fide, to the operations of government; or, on the other, to the due administration of justice.
The inftitution, Gentlemen, of this court appears to have been misapprehended: it was not, I firmly believe, intended as a cenfure on any individuals who exift, or have existed. Legiflative provifions have not the individual for their object, but the fpecies; and are not made for the convenience of the day, but for the regulation of ages. Whatever were the reafons for its firft establishment, of which I may not be fo perfectly apprized, I will venture to affure you that it has been continued for one obvious reafon: That an extenfive dominion, without a complete and independent judicature, would be a phenomenon, of which the hiftory of the world affords no example. Juftice must be administered with effect, or fociety cannot long fubfift, It is a truth coeval with human nature, and not peculiar to any age or country, That power, in the hands of men, will fometimes be abufed; and ought always, if poffible, to be reftrained: but the reftrictions of general laws imply no particular blame. How many precautions have from time to time been used to render judges and jurors impartial, and to place them above dependence! Yet none of us conceive ourfelves difgraced by fuch precautions. The object then of the
court thus continued with ample powers, though wifely circumfcribed in its jurifdiction, is plainly this: That in every age the British fubjects refident in India be protected, yet governed, by British laws; and that the natives of thefe important provinces be indulged in their own prejudices, civil and religious, and fuffered to enjoy their own customs unmolested: and why thofe great ends may not now be attained, confiftently with the regular collection of the revenues, and the fupremacy of the executive government, I confefs myself unable to difcover.
Another thing has been, if not greatly mifconceived, at leaft very imperfectly understood; and no wonder, fince it requires fome profeffional habits to comprehend it fully: I mean the true character and office of judges appointed to adminifter thofe laws. The ufe of law, as a fcience, is to prevent mere difcretionary power, under the colour of equity; and it is the duty of a judge to pronounce his decifions, not fimply-according to his own opinion of justice and right, but according to prefcribed rules. It must be hoped, that his own reafon generally approves thofe rules; but it is the judgement of the law, not his own, which he delivers. Were judges to decide by their bare opinions of right and wrong opinions always unknown, often capricious, fometimes improperly biaffed-to what an arbitrary tribunal would men be fubject! in how dreadful a state of flavery would they live! Let us be fatisfied, Gentlemen, with law, which all who pleafe may understand; and not call for equity in its popular fenfe, which differs in different men, and muft at best be dark and uncertain.
The end of criminal law, a most important branch of the great juridical fyftem, is to prevent crimes by punifhment; fo that the pain of it, as a fine writer expreffes himfelf, may be inflicted on a few, but the dread of it extended to all. In the adminiftration of penal juftice, a fevere burden is removed from our minds by the affiftance of juries: and it is my ardent wish, that the court had the fame re
lief in civil, efpecially commercial, caufes; for the decifion of which there cannot be a nobler tribunal, than a jury of experienced men, affifted by the learning of a judge. Thefe are my fentiments; and I exprefs them, not because they may be popular, but because I fincerely entertain them: for I afpire to no popularity, and seek no praife, but that which may be given to a ftrict and confcientious difcharge of duty, without predilection or prejudice of any kind; and with a fixed refolution to pronounce on all occafions what I conceive to be the law, than which no individual must suppose himself wifer.
The mention of my duty, Gentlemen, leads me naturally to the particular fubject of my charge, from which I have not, I hope, unreasonably deviated: but you are too well apprized of your duty to need very particular intructions; and happily no higher offences (except one larceny) appear in the calendar, than fome criminal frauds, and a few affaults. One of them, indeed, is ftated as very atrocious: and if you confider that the frequency of fmall crimes becomes a ferious evil in fociety, you will not think the more trivial complaints unworthy of your attention. Redrefs of wrongs must be given, or it will be taken: and the law wifely forbids the flighteft attack upon the person of a subject, left far worfe mifchief fhould enfue from the fudden ebullition of rage, or the flower but the more dangerous operation of revenge.
Your powers, however, are not li mited to this calendar, or even to the bills which may be preferred; for whatever elfe fhall come to your knowledge, it will be your part to prefent, and our's to hear attentively. Thus, by a cordial concurrence in preferving the public peace, and bringing fuch as violate it to punishment, we fhall contribute, in our refpective ftations, to the fecurity of this great fettlement, and to the profperity of thefe provinces; in which the dearest interests of our common parent and country, Great-Britain, are now effentially involved.
FOR THE LONDON MAGAZINE. FIRST THOUGHTS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS.
On ORIGINAL COMPOSITION.
O borrow wifely," is, I confefs, allowable; but in new poems we naturally look for fomething which we had not met with before; and do not rife quite fatisfied from thofe poetical pages, in which no ftriking traits of genius make their appearance. We are, indeed, ready to doze over a collection of old thoughts which have been repeated a thoufand times by the vapid verfifiers of the age. How different are our feelings when an original comes in our way.
On OLD WORDS.
And fo you do not relish ancient words in a modern poem? They ought not, I think, to appear often; but the judicious introduction of an old word, in a poetical page, has fometimes a very happy effect. Old words, revived with judgement, throw a venerable air over a poem, but, if they are not felected with great attention, they produce a roughness in every line, and would
tend to defeat the best intentions of the writer who aims, by words current in the days of Spenfer, to give his page a more confequential appearance. How often are the words welkin, nathlefs, and beheft, forced into a modern ftanza? When fuch words are hackneyed over and over again, by thofe who, toiling in the fervice of the Mufes, wish to get into a corner of the Temple of Fame, they certainly do not make their fapience known to the gentle reader by verbal felection.
On the Poetical Powers of DRYDEN. In Dryden's most poetical dramatic pieces, he has little claim to dramatic distinction. Faults, glaring faults, are to be met with in every act, and fenfe is frequently facrificed to found. In various fcenes, indeed, the poet fhines, and charms us with the melody of his verfe; but when he gives the moft mufical fatisfaction, he lofes fight of nature, the beft of guides; and in his tragedies befringed with rhyme," throws out ftrokes which border on
bombaft: there is not a fpark in them of that kind of fublimity which the true critic will honour with his ap plaufe.
On VOCAL MUSIC.
Every ftroke of vocal art, joined with inftrumental cunning, is vainly employed to feife the foul, if judgement is not ready to join the flexible voice through all its intonations, and to guide the labouring hand in all its tuneful movements. From Dryden's very poetical Ode on St. Cecilia's Day, a ftriking picture might be formed to prove the force of found, by the effect which it had on the favage race. When mufic is guided by the hand of a mafter, all the paffions are under its control. Mufic can foothe and foften, exhilirate and inflame; it can make cowards valiant, and ftrike the most formidable heroes with a panic: mufic can drive away delight from mirthful fcenes, give dimples to the cheek of forrow, and make the most gloomy
On the Mufical Powers of HANDEL.
By his mufical powers Handel nobly diftinguished himfelf in the harmonic line. So great, indeed, was his com mand over all the paffions, that whenever he wished to point out their par ticular courfe, they moved at his direction. Are we not melted with compaffion when the daughter of Jeptha, ftrikingly diftreffed, is doomed to fuffer? Will not the tears of pity flow for a father's grief?
When the conquering hero comes," do we not, while he is hailed with melodious notes, loud and long, fee him with his little band, drive the fwiftfooted Syrian before him, who flies from his bloody fpear, full of terror and confufion? But fuperior to all his other works, with regard to fublimity, the Meffiah must ever ftand: for moving ftrains, and melting paffages throughout, it merits particular diftinction. To that mufical mafter-piece in the facred line of compofition, I bow
with reverential awe; to that I liften with profound attention, and from that I derive exquifite delight.
Oz TRANSLATED VERSE. Among the numbers who dabble in tranflated verse, there are not many who while they read their authors, keep them in their view: they take fuch liberties, indeed, with the text, that you cannot poffibly fee a ftriking likeness. In many places you cannot difcover in the copied line the leaft mark of the original. The drudging doer of an ancient poet, whenever he finds the claffical task too hard, generally leaves out what he cannot tranflate; a mode of proceeding far more
commendable than that which is adopted by a certain fet of tranflators, who, with all the boldness of original writers, give us their own fenfe instead of their author's. The difcerning critic, however, foon difcovers the impofition, and brandishes the rod of correction.
On LICENTIOUS POETS.
What can thefe poets advance in their own favour, who are continually endeavouring to drive every chafte fenfation from the foul? who employ their fuperior fenfe, who display their fuperior parts, to deftroy the strongest guards of virtue!
WHEN Henry the Fourth had up the hearts of the great to command
left Poitou, and came up to the little bridge of Monteontour, he found there, waiting to addrefs him, the petty justice of the peace, a tall, withered old man, with a long vifage, full of deep wrinkles, his eyes funk in his head, his beard long and white, and his habit very rough and flovenly. This man prefenting himself to make his harangue to the King, gathered all the courtiers about him, rather for a fhare in the laugh which they fall into on fuch occafions, than expecting to hear any thing worth their attention.
The orator immediately, with a grave and fad compofure, fpake as follows:
Sire, fome of the ancients, adorers of their Kings, called them Gods, others, more modeftly, ftyled them images of the Supreme Being: how, it is agreeable to reafon, that the image fhould refemble the original, we are pleased with pictures that reprefent us truely, and preferve them carefully; but fuch as disfigure us, and have no right to the name they bear, we throw into the fire, and deftroy.
The features of the face of God are juftice and mercy-Princes who are juft and merciful are kept in the bofom of the Moft High, as his well-beloved portraits; but unjuft and unmerciful Kings are images of him, who, being a murderer from the beginning, fpirits
murders, and of nobles and armies to execute them, and to defpoil the face of the earth of its native beauty, by covering it over with hideous fpectacles, fuch as we have lately seen on the plain you have now paffed over, which our eyes beheld one morning enlivened with the appearance of the moft gallant nobility of France, under the fame fun, covered with their blood, and within two days after, ftinking with the putrid fmell of ten thousand moft excellent warriors; we now fee it at last whitening with their bones. Our very dogs are turned wolves by overgorging themselves with blood; the blood of those who had themfelves been for fome time before employed in flaughtering a whole country, leaving behind them dead bones in the place of living men, and caufing helplefs infants to perish, while fucking at the half-ftarved breasts of their famifhed mothers.
Death now paid them in grofs what they had lent him by retail; but the reckoning is not fo to end-for God will require the lives of thoufands at the hands of thofe by whofe commands they have fallen, and befides this, few of thofe grandees escape unflaughtered to their graves, becaufe the great Judge of all, even in this world, executes judgement.
Sire, your port and countenance promife
the matter. Tafte the fruit of what your hands have fown, and do not let our difcourfe only produce horror in you, without producing a change. God mixes his notices in the complaints he fends beforehand, as if he were willing to justify himfelf; it was thus, when he ordained his thunder to ftrike the head of Dioclefian, he firft directed a thunderbolt to fall at his feet.
May the King of Kings infpire you with falutary thoughts, and direct your actions to what is good. Teaching your hands, able as they have been in combat, to manage the fword glorioufly, fo to wield happily the fceptre of peace.
The King stood aftonished, and after a long paufe gave this anfwer: "I take your fpeech in good part. I thank you for it, and fall never forget it."
FOR THE LONDON
THOUGHTS ON TAXATION, AND A NEW SYSTEM OF FUNDING.
In a well-ordered and perfect scheme of financial polity, fuch means would be "adopted as fhould in the effect bear equally upon every species of property."
From a former Effay by the fame Author.
VARIOUS have been the plans proposed to government, to enable us to meet a neceffary war, and relieve us from a ftate in which we muft expect to be infulted, and to lofe not only our national character, but, without new refources, feveral of our most valuable territories and poffeffions. Men of talents, very high and refpectable, have confeffed the difficulty fo great, as to make them afraid almoft to think upon the matter; and this ought to have induced me to be filent, who own myfelf unequal to fubjects of much lefs confequence. I nevertheless will venture to propofe what may probably lead to fome plan, which, being matured by an abler hand, may produce what is fo much wanted, a fource from whence fupplies may Spring, to fupply government in any future exigency.
I fet out by faying, modify taxes as you will, they muft in the end wholly affect thofe who are poffeffed of proLOND. MAC, Feb. 1785.
perty; and all I aim at is, to oblige people to pay in proportion to what they enjoy of the national ftock. To do this effectually, men's revenues, I hold, ought to be charged in one fum upon receiving, rather than ten thousand ways in the expenditure; and this would oblige foreigners, non-refident fubjects, and the miferable hoarder of his income, who denies himself the enjoyment of the bleffings of Providence, and cheats the state of the taxes upon even the common neceffaries of life, each to pay towards the defence and fecurity of what they poffefs, and from which no one has a fufficient plea of exemption who holds any species of property in this country.
To begin with that property we call real, upon which very heavy taxes are already impofed, let us confider that the prefent manner of affeffing the land has been fo long in ufe, that every landholder efteems his eftate more or