Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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J.C. Kassler: ‘The Systematic Writings on Music of William Jones (1726–1800)’, JAMS, xxvi (1973), 92–107

N. Temperley: The Music of the English Parish Church (Cambridge, 1979)

J.C. Kassler: The Science of Music in Britain, 1714–1830 (New York, 1979), i, 593–607

C.B. Wilde: ‘Hutchinsonianism, Natural Philosophy and Religious Controversy in 18th-Century Britain’, History of Science, xviii (1980), 1–24

R.S. Walker, ed.: A Selection of Thomas Twining's Letters 1734–1804 (Lewiston, NY, 1991), i, 175, 214–5, 247, 250


Jones, Sir William (ii)

(b London, 28 Sept 1746; d Calcutta, 27 April 1794). English lawyer, orientalist and Sanskrit scholar. He was the son of a distinguished mathematician who came from a peasant family on Anglesey. He was educated at Harrow and University College, Oxford, and early showed an extraordinary gift for languages. In 1766 he became tutor to the seven-year-old Lord Althorp, only son of the 1st Earl Spencer, and for five years had access to a superb library. He engaged in much activity in literary circles and knew Dr Johnson, Burke, Gibbon and scholars and associates of the Enlightenment, including Rousseau. He developed his orientalist pursuits and at the age of 22 translated the history of Nadir Shah into French for King Christian VII of Denmark. He was called to the Bar in 1774, and in 1783 received a knighthood and was appointed High Court Judge in Calcutta, where he remained for the rest of his life.

In Calcutta, Jones pursued his study of oriental languages. In 1784 he founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which for over a century provided the focus for the study of the languages, literatures, history and customs of the Indian subcontinent. Jones included Francis Fowke’s valuable article ‘On the Vina or Indian Lyre’ in the first volume of Asiatick Researches (Calcutta, 1788). His one published essay on Hindu music is supported by his intimate knowledge of Sanskrit and his exceptionally enquiring mind and shows both sympathy and insight. Further insights into Jones’s pursuit of his interest in Indian music come in the correspondence of Margaret Fowke, a musical amateur in Calcutta who collected Indian tunes. Jones assisted her by translating lyrics and in return received copies of the melodies that she collected; a volume of these ‘Hindostannie’ airs was presented to Warren Hastings, who commented on their authenticity: ‘I have always protested against every Interpolation of European Taste in the Recital of the Music of Hindostan’; he was able to ‘attest that they are genuine Transcripts of the original music’. However, any effort to ‘translate’ Indian tunes into a European notation was doomed to failure and the results, to judge by the extant examples (see India, §II, 5), bore only a distant resemblance to anything authentically Indian.

Indian music was only one of many subjects that Jones pursued during his residence in India; his thorough and confident observations formed the groundwork for generations of future scholars. Jones’s wide-ranging talents were recognized in his lifetime and received high praise from such a figure as Goethe.

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