« PreviousContinue »
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,
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 subjećts of Britain derive from it a fingular 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 charaćter, 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. b his his own genius and disposition, (on the merits of which he is, perhaps the least qualified to decide, (I would unreservedly say, that in the course of my journey, I felt no impulse of partiality for any seót 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 loose style of description; and as I have been thrown into tracks, removed from the eye 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 dissertation on the former and present state of Bengal, may have some claim to favour, from the confideration that I visited that province in the description of a passenger; - through though but a small portion of local knowledge might have been acquired, essential 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 objećts 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 correóted since my return to India; but from the various intricacy of the subjećt, 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, essentially differ in its compartments. The ostensible dissimilarity arises, perhaps from the manners of the same people, varying in Northern and Southern regions. A native of the lower Carnatic is mild, temperate, and generally timid ; he performs, the ordinances of his religion with a zealous and scrupulous attention; and the bramin of that country, with many of the other scćts, is confined strićtly 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 flesh meat; 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 manners 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 - - Colonel