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MANY of the following pages have already been read before the public and received the stamp of approbation, as affording a series of sketches calculated to give instruction and encouragement to the Indian Youth. What were delivered in the shape of desultory Lectures, together with the addition of hitherto undelivered sketches, having been put in a collected form and sent the round of some half-a-dozen English scholars (among whom may be named the kind and learned Rev. Drs. Wilson, Mitchell, Fraser, and G–, and K—, as particularly affording encouragement), the Author ventures to put them forth in the form of the present volume, with fear and trembling
Indian Society has undergone some change since the latest missionary and other publications relating to it were issued; and the writer has attempted in the following pages a faithful picture of India in some of the most prominent intellectual, social, and moral bearings of the present day. The aim has been particularly kept in view to state in honest boldness the faults and discrepancies to be perceived in Native character; and as human nature is too vast for any particular description, there may seem contradictions in some places, either in the narration of existing facts, or in the hopes entertained of the future. But these contradictions may be easily reconciled by the reader, who would persuade himself to believe that the existence of defects in a portion, and even the larger portion, of the inhabitants of a country, need not necessarily dim the bright prospect of the future inspired by a recognition of the worth of the other and smaller portion.
This is the writer's first
essay in English, which he has prepared only in hasty intervals of leisure from heavy studies and avocations in life; and though the MS. has been, as already noted, inspected by English scholars, the writer does not hesitate to say that, being desirous to appear in his native and independent garb, however humble and awkward it be, he has not asked any one of his English friends to add or alter aught, either to ensure correctness or perfect elegance in his work. There may, therefore, be discovered faults of taste as well as idiom and reasoning; but whatever may appear worthy of blame in the work, let the critic, when tempted to be harsh, take our inexperience into consideration, and he will learn to be lenient and unsearching. And it must never be forgotten, that writing, as the Author does, in a foreign language, acquired only in the schoolroom and the closet, born and living in a country of enervating climate,
which denies to the zealous student
many a wished-for hour of active study and labour, and bred up in the midst of a society which is socially, morally, and intellectually as coldly apathetic and defective as he has described, he cannot hope to achieve any high degree of success with that favoured nation which has the noble heritage of the English language, English climate, and English institutions to claim as its own. He would therefore naturally ask to be tried by a special and much modified code in the English court of criticism.
As for his countrymen, the author is confident many
will dislike his bold exposition of their faults, and some selfdeluders from
them will, in some way or other, set about pulling him to pieces. But it will do them good service to remember that the first step towards advancement of
kind is a knowledge of one's defects, and if India is to be advanced, the defects in the character of