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AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.*

MY DEAR FRIEND,

In conformity with the wish, you have frequently ex I should give you an outline of my life, I have now t] give you the following very brief sketch :

:

My ancestors were Brahmins of a high order, an immemorial, were devoted to the religious duties of thei to my fifth progenitor, who about one hundred and fo gave up spiritual exercises for worldly pursuits and ag.. His descendants ever since have followed his example, an to the usual fate of courtiers, with various success, some to honour and sometimes falling; sometimes rich an poor; sometimes excelling in success, sometimes mis disappointment. But my maternal ancestors, being of t order by profession as well as by birth, and of a family none holds a higher rank in that profession, have up to day uniformly adhered to a life of religious observances preferring peace and tranquility of mind to the e ambition, and all the allurements of worldly grandeur.

In comformity with the usage of my paternal race, of my father, I studied the Persian and Arabic language indispensable to those who attached themselves to the Mahommedan princes; and agreeably to the usage of relations, I devoted myself to the study of the Sanskrit a gical works written in it, which contain the body of Hin 'aw and religion.

*Miss Carpenter thus introduced this Autobiographical Sketch into Last Days in England of the Rajah Rammohun Roy' :

"The following letter from Rammohun Roy himself first appeared in and in the Literary Gazette;' from one or other of which it was c newspapers. It was written just before he went to France. It was p for some distinguished person who had desired him to give an outli and he adopted this form for the purpose. The letter may be conside. to his friend, Mr. Gordon, of Calcutta."

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Miss Collet calls it "the spurious 'autobiographical letter' publis 1 by Sandford Arnot in the Athenæum of October 5, 1833.”—Ed.

When about the age of sixteen, I composed a manuscript calling in question the validity of the idolatrous system of the Hindoos. This, together with my known sentiments on that subject, having produced a coolness between me and my immediate kindred, I proceeded on my travels, and passed through different countries, chiefly within, but some beyond, the bounds of Hindoostan, with a feeling of great aversion to the establishment of the British power in India. When I had reached the age of twenty, my father recalled me, and restored me to his favour; after which I first saw and began to associate with Europeans, and soon after made myself tolerably acquainted with their laws and form of government. Finding them generally more intelligent, more steady and moderate in their conduct, I gave up my prejudice against them, and became inclined in their favour, feeling persuaded that their rule, though a foreign yoke, would lead more speedily and surely to the amelioration of the native inhabitants; and I enjoyed the confidence of several of them even in their public capacity. My continued controversies with the Brahmins on the subject of their idolatry and superstition, and my interference with their custom of burning widows, and other pernicio us practices, revived and increased their animosity against me; and through their influence with my family, my father was again obliged to withdraw his countenance openly, though his limited pecuniary support was still continued to me.

After my father's death I opposed the advocates of idolatry with still greater boldness. Availing myself of the art of printing, now established in India, I published various works and pamphlets against their errors, in the native and foreign languages. This raised such a feeling against me, that I was at last deserted by every person except two or three Scotch friends, to whom, and the nation to which they belong, I always feel grateful.

The ground which I took in all my controversies was, not that of opposition to Brahminism, but to a perversion of it; and I endeavoured to show that the idolatry of the Brahmins was contrary to the practice of their ancestors, and the principles of the ancient books and authorities which they profess to revere and obey. Notwithstanding the violence of the opposition and resistance to my opinions, several highly respectable persons, both among my own relations and others, began to adopt the same sentiments.

I now felt a strong wish to visit Europe, and obtain by personal observation, a more thorough insight into its manners, customs,

religion, and political institutions. I refrained, however, from carrying this intention into effect until the friends who coincided in my sentiments should be increased in number and strength. My expectations having been at length realised, in November, 1830, I embarked for England, as the discussion of the East India Company's charter was expected to come on, by which the treatment of the natives of India, and its future government, would be determined for many years to come, and an appeal to the King in Council, against the abolition of the practice of burning widows, was to be heard before the Privy Council; and his Majesty the Emperor of Delhi had likewise commissioned me to bring before the authorities in England certain encroachments on his rights by the East India Company. I accordingly arrived in England in April, 1831.

I hope you will excuse the brevity of this sketch, as I have no leisure at present to enter into particulars, and

I remain, &c., RAMMOHUN ROY.

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