« PoprzedniaDalej »
been among his most bitter opponents. He, however, manifested a warm and affectionate attachment towards
and it was with a glistening eye that he told us she had “repented” of her conduct towards him. Though convinced that his doctrines were true, she could not throw off the shackles of idolatrous customs. “RAMMOHUN," she said to him, before she set out on her last pilgrimage to Juggernaut, where she died, "you are right; but I am a weak woman, and am grown too old to give up these observances, which are a comfort to me." She maintained them with the most self-denying devotion. She would not allow a female servant to accompany her; or any other provision to be made for her comfort or even support on her journey; and when at Juggernaut, she engaged in sweeping the temple of the idol. There she spent the remainder of her life nearly a year if not more; and there she died. He recently stated, however, that before her death she expressed her great sorrow for what had passed, and declared her conviction in the unity of God, and the futility of Hindoo superstition.
D'ACOSTA, the editor of a journal at Calcutta, transmitted to the Abbé GREGOIRE, in 1818, the various publications of this extraordinary man, with some account of his history; and through GREGOIRE, RAMMOHUN ROY became extensively known and highly appreciated in France. D'ACOSTA says, that he carefully avoided every thing that could afford a pretext for excluding him from his caste, since, as a Brahmin, it was his acknowledged duty to instruct his countrymen in the sense and real commands of their sacred books. He speaks of him as distinguished in his controversy more by his logical mode of reasoning than by his general views, though far from deficient in philosophy or information. He says that all his conversation, his actions, and his manners evince a powerful sentiment of individual dignity; while, in general, meanness and feebleness of mind are characteristic of the Hindoo; and that his ingenuous conversation often shows, in a strain half serious and half sportive, all that he wished to be able to do for his country. As to his personal exterior at that period, D'ACOSTA says,-“ He is tall and robust; his regular features, and habitually grave countenance, assume a most pleasing appearance when he is animated : he appears to have a slight disposition to melancholy.” " The moderation,” adds Abbé GREGOIRE, “ with which he repels the attacks on his writings, the force of his arguments, and his profound knowledge of the sacred books of the Hindoos, are proofs of his fitness for the work he has undertaken ; and the pecuniary sacrifices he has made, show a disinterestedness which cannot be encouraged or admired too warmly.”
It was about this period that Lieut.-Col. FITZCLARENCE, now the Earl of MUNSTER, became acquainted with RAMMOHUN Roy. He speaks highly of this “most extraordinary” Brahmin, of his talents and learning, his intimate knowledge of our language and eloquence in the use of it, his extensive acquaintance with our literature as well as with the Arabic and Sanscrit, his clear intelligence of the politics of Europe and especially of
England, of his fine person, and most courtly manners. The representations of the Earl indicate the amazing extent, tenaciousness, and accuracy of his memory; and in this and other respects fully accord with what we learn of him from other sources; the Author was, however, mistaken in supposing that he had been “ declared to have lost caste.” RAMMOHUN Roy recently stated that every effort had been made for the purpose, and
, that he had had, at an enormous expense, to defend himself against a series of legal proceedings instituted for the purpose of depriving him of caste, and thereby of his patrimonial inheritance. Through his profound acquaintance, however, with the Hindoo law, he baffled the efforts of his interested enemies, and proved in the Courts of justice that he had not forfeited his rights. These legal proceedings must have continued, in different ways, for several years. They appear to have terminated in the Provincial Court no long time before RAMMOHUN Roy set out for England. On leaving Calcutta, he charged his two sons to forget the conduct of their cousins in connection with them.
Besides essentially contributing to the establishment and maintenance of native schools, RAMMOHUN ROY directed his efforts, and with great success, towards the extinction of the practice of burning widows. One of his tracts on this subject he dedicated to the Marchioness of HASTINGS, when the Marquis was Governor General.
It has already been shown that as early as 1817 he had directed his attention to the Christian religion ; but he found himself greatly perplexed by the various doctrines which he saw insisted upon as essential to Christianity, in the writings of Christian authors, and in conversation with those Christian teachers with whom he had communication : he resolved, therefore, to study the original Scriptures for himself; and for this purpose he acquired the knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages. Becoming strongly impressed with the excellence and importance of the Christian system of morality, he published, in 1820, in English, Sanscrit, and Bengalee, a series of selections, principally from the first three Gospels, which he entitled, “The Precepts of Jesus, the Guide to Peace and Happiness.” He passed by those portions of the Evangelists which have been made the basis of distinctive doctrines; and also (except where closely interwoven with the discourses of Christ) the narratives of miracles-believing these to be less fitted to affect the convictions of his countrymen, while the preceptive part he deemed most likely " to produce the desirable effect of improving the hearts and minds of men of different persuasions and degrees of understanding.” “This simple code of religion and morality," he says, at the close of his preface, “is so admirably calculated to elevate men's ideas to high and liberal notions of one God, who has equally subjected all living creatures, without distinction of caste, rank or wealth, to change, disappointment, pain and death, and has equally admitted all to be partakers of the bountiful mercies which he has lavished over nature; and is also so well fitted to regulate the conduct of the human race in the discharge of their various duties to God, to themselves, and to society ; that I cannot but hope the best effects from its promulgation in the present form.”
This work was published anonymously, but without concealment of the source. It brought upon him some severe and unexpected animadversions in “The Friend of India”; the writer of which uncourteously, as well as most unjustly, spoke of the Compiler as a heathen. Under the designation of “ A Friend to Truth,” RAMMOHUN Roy published an Appeal to the Christian Public in defence of the “Precepts of Jesus"; in which he declares, that the expressions employed in the preface should have shown the opponent "that the Compiler believed, not only in one God whose nature and essence is beyond human comprehension, but in the truths revealed in the Christian system.” He further maintains that the “ Precepts of Jesus” “ contain not only the essence of all that is necessary to instruct mankind in their civil duties, but also the best and only means of obtaining the forgiveness of our sins, the favor of God, and strength to overcome our passions and to keep his commandments." He defends the system which the Compiler had adopted to introduce Christianity to the native inhabitants, by appealing to the fact that nearly three-fifths are Hindoos and two-fifths Moosulmans, the latter devoted from their infancy to the belief in one God; and declares that, from his own experience in religious controversy with them, he is satisfied that he was rendering them most service by making them acquainted with those precepts (by which he appears to have meant, more generally, instructions) “the obedience to which he