Excerpts From ‘The Travels Of Dean Mahomet’

EXCERPTS FROM ‘THE TRAVELS OF DEAN MAHOMET’
EXCERPTS FROM ‘THE TRAVELS OF DEAN MAHOMET’

About Sheikh Din Muhammad

[Sheikh Din Muhammad(1759-18510), known as Dean Mohamet, born in Patna, Bihar and immigrated to England, was the first Indian to publish a book in the English language. He was a surgeon and introduced Indian cuisine and shampoo baths to Europe as well a famous and one of the earliest non-European immigrants to the western world.]

⦁ The first Indian to publish his book in English in the 18th century (15 January 1794).
⦁ One of the earliest non-European immigrants to the Western world.
⦁ He wrote the travel narratives in form of letters to an unknown friend.

⦁ King George IV and King William IV appointed him as their shampooing surgeon in Brighton.

Letter I

Dear Sir,

Since my arrival in this country, I find you have been very anxious to be made acquainted with the early part of my Life, and the History of my Travels: I shall be happy to gratify you; and must ingenuously confess. when I first came to Ireland, I found the face of everything about me so contrasted to those striking scenes in India, which we are wont to survey with a kind of sublime delight. that I felt some timid inclination, even in the consciousness of incapacity, to describe the manners of my countrymen, who, I am proud to think, have still more of the innocence of our ancestors, than some of the boasting philosophers of Europe

Though I acknowledge myself incapable of doing justice to the merits of men, whose happy manners are worthy the imitation of civilized nations, yet, you will do me the justice to believe, that the gratification of your wishes, is the principal incitement that engages me to undertake a work of this nature: the earnest entreaties of some friends, and the liberal encouragement of others, to whom I express my acknowledgments, I allow, are secondary motives.
The people of India, in general, are peculiarly favored by Providence in the possession of all that can cheer the mind and allure the eye, and tho’ the situation of Eden is only traced in the Poet’s creative fancy, the traveler beholds with admiration the face of this delightful country, on which he discovers tracts that resemble those so finely drawn by the animated pencil of Milton.

You will here behold the generous soil crowned with various plenty; the garden beautifully diversified with the gayest flowers diffusing their fragrance on the bosom of the air; and the very bowels of the earth enriched with inestimable mines of gold and diamonds.

Possessed of all that is enviable in life, we are still happier in the exercise of benevolence and goodwill to each other, devoid of every species of fraud or low cunning. In our convivial enjoyments, we are never without our neighbors; as it is usual for an individual, when he gives an entertainment, to invite all those of his own profession to partake of it. That profligacy of manners too conspicuous in other parts of the world meets here with public indignation, and our women, though not so accomplished as those of Europe, are still very engaging for many virtues that exalt the sex.

As I have now given you a sketch of the manners of my country; I shall proceed to give you some account of myself.
I was born in the year 1759, in Patna, a famous city on the north [south]side of the Ganges, about 400 miles from Calcutta, the capital of Bengal and seat of the English Government in that country.

I was too young when my father died, to learn any great account of his family; all I have been able to know respecting him, is, that he was descended from the same race as the Nabobs of Moorshadabad [Murshidabad]. He was appointed Subadar in a battalion of Seapoys commanded by Captain Adams, a company of which under his command was quartered at a small district not many miles from Patna, called Tarchpoor [Tajpur], an inconsiderable fort, built on the side of a little river that takes its rise a few miles up the country. Here he was stationed in order to keep this fort.

In the year 1769, a great dearth overspread the country about Tarchpoor, where the Rajas’ Boudmal [Budhmal], and his brother Corexin [Kora Singh] resided, which they took an advantage of by pretending it was impossible for them to remit the stipulated supplies to the Raja Sataproy [Shitab Rai], who finding himself disappointed in his expectations, sent some of his people to compel them to pay: but the others retired within their forts, determined on making an obstinate defense.

My father had received orders to lead out his men to the scene of dispute, which lay about twelve miles from the fort he was quartered in, marched accordingly, and soon after his arrival at Taharah [Telarha], took the Raja Boudmal prisoner, and sent him under a strong guard to Patna, where he was obliged to account for his conduct. My father remained in the field, giving the enemy some striking proofs of the courage of their adversary; which drove them to such measures, that they strengthened their posts and redoubled their attacks with such ardor, that many of our men fell, and my lamented father among the rest; but not till he had entirely exhausted the forces of the Raja, who, at length, submitted. The soldiers, animated by his example, made Corexin a prisoner and took possession of the fort.

Thus have I been deprived of a gallant father, whose firmness and resolution were manifested in his military conduct on several occasions.
My brother, then about sixteen years old, and the only child my mother had besides me, was present at the engagement, and having returned home, made an application to Capt. Adams who, in gratitude to the memory of my father, whose services he failed not to represent to the Governor, speedily promoted him to his post. My mother and I suffered exceedingly by his sudden yet honorable fate in the field: for my Brother was then too young and thoughtless, to pay any great attention to our situation.

I was about eleven years old when deprived of my father, and though children are seldom possessed of much sensibility or reflection at such immature years, yet I recollect well no incident of my life ever made so deep an impression on my mind. Nothing could wear from my memory the remembrance of his tender regard. As he was a Mahometan, he was interred with all the pomp and ceremony usual on the occasion. I remained with my mother sometime after and acquired a little education at a school in Patna.
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