The Works of Sir William Jones
A renowned Enlightenment polymath, Sir William Jones (1746–94) was a lawyer, translator and poet who wrote authoritatively on politics, comparative linguistics and oriental literature. Known initially for his Persian translations and political radicalism, Jones became further celebrated for his study and translation of ancient Sanskrit texts following his appointment to the supreme court in Calcutta in 1783. He spent the next eleven years introducing Europe to the mysticism and rationality of Hinduism through works such as his nine 'Hymns' to Hindu deities and his translation of the Sanskrit classic Sacontalá. Volume 8 of his thirteen-volume works, published in 1807, contains more of Jones' legal work, including his pre-India tracts on Islamic laws of succession and inheritance – culturally comparative works debunking prejudiced claims that Islamic cultures denied private property. Also included is his formative 'Essay on the Law of Bailments' (1781), a work still cited in some legal cases today.