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Frontispiece, -- Portrait,--to face Title.
The following brief Memoir of the Rajah RAMMOHUN Roy was prepared by Dr. CARPENTER from authentic sources of information chiefly found in the “Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature,” Vols. xii. to xx.; from the Meinoir prefixed to the “ Precepts of Jesus,” by Rev. Dr. T. REES; from communications received from the family with whom the Rajah resided in London, and from the Rajah personally by the writer It was inserted, after the Rajah's lamented death, in the Bristol Guzette and Bristol Mercury, and thence copied into other papers. It was afterwards inserted, with some additions in the “Review of the Labours, Opinions, and Character of Rajah RAMMOHUN Roy,” by Dr. CARPENTER, from which copious extracts are made in this volume. As this work is now out of print it is here given in full, up to the Rajah's arrival in England, as an introduction to the work.
RAMMOHUN Roy was the son of RAM KHANT Roy. His grandfather resided at Moorshedabad, and filled some important offices under the Moguls; but being ill-treated by them towards the end of his life, the son took up his abode in the district of Bordouan, where he had landed property. There RAMMOHUN Roy was born, most probably about 1774. Under his father's roof he received the elements of native education, and also acquired the Persian language. He was afterwards sent to Patna to learn Arabic; and lastly to Benares to obtain a knowledge of the Sanscrit, the sacred language of the Hindoos. His masters at Patna set him to study Arabic translations of some of the writings of Aristotle and Euclid; and it is probable that the training thus given his mind in acuteness and close reasoning, and the knowledge which he acquired of the Mahommedan religion from Musselmen whom he esteemed, contributed to cause that searching examination of the faith in which he was educated, which led him eventually to the important efforts he made to restore it to its early simplicity.
His family was Brahminical, of high respectability; and, of course, he was a Brahmin by birth. After his death the thread of his caste was seen round him, passing over his left shoulder and under his right. His father trained him in the doctrine of his sect; but he very early observed the diversities of opinion existing even among the idolaters; and that while some exalted Brama, the Creator, others gave the ascendancy to Vishnu, the Preserver; and others again to Siva, the Destroyer. It is scarcely possible, too, but that his mind must have been struck by the simplicity of the Mahommedan faith and worship; and at any rate it early revolted from the frivolous or disgusting rites and ceremonies of Hindoo idolatry. Without disputing the authority of his father, he often sought from him information as to the reasons of his faith. He obtained no satisfaction ; and he at last determined, at the early age of fifteen, to leave the paternal home, and sojourn for a time in Thibet, that he might see another form of religious faith. He spent two or three years in that country, and often excited the anger of the worshippers of the Lama by his rejection of their doctrine that this pretended deity--a living man—was the creator and preserver of the world. In these circumstances he experienced the soothing kindness of the female part of the family ; and his gentle, feeling heart lately dwelt, with deep interest, at the distance of more than forty years, on the recollections of that period, which, he said, had made him always feel respect and gratitude towards the female sex, and which doubtless contributed to that unvarying and re