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continue to govern the British dominion in India, and complete the work that already hath assumed so fair an aspect. The sacrifice is great, but the reward is still greater; it will reach beyond the sovereign's bounty, or the peoples praise.
I have the Honour to be,
With the most profound respect,
And most obedient
humble Servant, GEORGE FORSTER.
CALCUTTA, August the ist, 1790.
P R E F A C E.
Books of Voyages and Travels having been ever held in estimation, and indulgently received, I am the less fearful of submitting the following volume to the notice of the public. A knowledge of the manners of different nations qualifies domestic prejudice, and enlightens the mind; but the subjects of Britain derive from it a singular benefit; they see through a comparison that communicates a fond pleasure to the heart, the unrivaled excellency of their laws, constitution and government; they see these rare gifts brightly reflected on their national character, which still avowedly maintains its pre-eminence amongst the nations of the European world. Were a man to form a judgment of the bias of Vol. I.
his own genius and disposition, (on the merits of which he is, perhaps the least qualified to decide, (I would unreservedly fay, that in the course of my journey, I felt no impulse of partiality for any sect or body of men. It is of serious concern to letters, that many a man of genius and science has fixed a discredit on his works, by a wilful adherence to some favourite system, which alluring to its standard a various train of affections, and ideas, he becomes involuntarily incited to sacrifice to it the principles of truth and reason.
Travellers stand accused, even, on proverbial authority, of adopting a figurative and loole style of description; and as I have been thrown into tracks, removed from the
of European observation, I am prompted to earnestly solicit the confidence of the public in behalf of this work, and to say, that however vitiated by the errors of judgment, it has no tendency to discolour or misrepresent truth. The cursory differtation on the former and present state of Bengal, may have some claim to favour, from the consideration that I visited that province in the description of a passenger;
though but a small portion of local knowledge might have been acquired, effential advantages arose from this temporary residence.
Guided by no views of interest, nor impressed by any frown of power, I was enabled to examine the objects that came before me through a dispassionate medium.
The letter on the mythology of the Hindoos, some copies of which were published in 1785, has been corrected since my return to India ; but from the various intricacy of the subject, I am apprehensive it may yet contain errors and apparent inconsistencies. Investigations of the religious ceremonies and customs of the Hindoos, written in the Carnatic, and in the Punjab, would in many examples widely differ; yet the Hindoo religion, in all parts of India, stand on a common basis ; nor does the vast superstructure, when the view is inspected with attention, effentially differ in its compartments. The oftenfible dissimilarity arises, perhaps from the manners of the fame people, varying in Northern and Southern regions. A native of the lower Carnatic is mild,
tempcrate, and generally timid ; hié performs, the ordinances of his religion with a z,calous and serupulous attention; and the bramin of that country, with many of the other sects, is confined strictly to the use of vegetable dict. · How strong the contrast appears in the inhabitant of the Punjab; those even of domestic and laborious professions, are brave, daring, and often cruel.. Bramins are the usual soldiers of the country,' many
of whom eat fesh meąt; and they never leave their home, even when not employed in military service, 'without weapons of offence. The merchants and mechanicks, when they go but a few miles abroad, are all strongly armed; and in some of the Northern provinces, particularly in Bundilcund; the husbandmen carry a spear. into the field they are cultivating. This difference of disposition has produced opposite männers in the same tribes of people, as well as opposite customs, which if not attentively investigated, would afford a specious belief, that the inhabitants of the North and South of India were not connected by any national relation. "I have to express with pleasure, great obligations to