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TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL
INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE
With Twelve Illustrations
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Lahiri & Co. Banerjee at the Cotton Press. Harrison S. Calcutta for Messrs. 10-1-27 XX. K. 57. .Printed and published by S. Road. K.
PREFACE. many names occur will be obvious. Among the six Hindus and the Muhammadans. so The difficulty of selection where have. complete sketch of the lives of twelve among the most prominent men of Bengal in the Nineteenth Century. the Government official and the educationalist. the descendant of a long line of ruling chiefs and the self-made man who won his own way to wealth and influence. social. If by serving to remind the people of Bengal of the splendid examples that the great men of their own race have set before them. to whom the present volume has been limited will be found the social reformer and the merchant prince. be regarded as typical of the Bengal during that momentous The selection has been further guided by a desire to cover the whole of the century so that the book may be not only a record of the lives of Twelve Men of though brief sketch of moral and intellectual. but rather those whose lives may varied conditions of period in its history. I however. which came to the Province during the period. and by bringing home to Englishmen a greater know- . hoped. THE following pages attempt to give a necessarily it is short but. the religious revivalist and the philanthropist. by no means attempted to select the twelve most distinguished names of the century. six Bengal but a comprehensive the wonderful revival.
Nineteenth Century. Save in the case of Haji Mahomed Mohsin. I have to thank very cordially the representatives of the subjects of these sketches for the material assistance have given me and for the interest they they have taken in the book. B. B-B. F. . amply fulfil its purpose. this small increase the of ledge of a few of the noble and devoted lives lived little by men of Bengal book may in respect in the its way and sympathy between men it will own different creeds and races.iv TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. of whose family I know of no representative surviving and in writing of whom I have had the kind assistance of the Mutwali of the Hooghly Imambara.
. .1 . NAWAB AMIR ALI KHAN BAHADUR . . 12. 10. RAM MOHAN ROY HAZI MAHOMED MOHSIN RAMTANU LAHIRI . . .CONTENTS. . PAGE. Ill 8. 2. AMIR-UL-OMRAH .. . . . .. 24. 101 6. 1 . . 141 173 185 KHAN 11. 35 61 3. . 9.199 219 MAHARAJA SIR JOTINDRA MOHAN TAGORE NAWAB SIR SYED HASSAN ALI MIRZA KHAN BAHADUB. x 5. . ... .. 89 . 4. KESHUB CHANDRA SEN NAWAB SIR KHAWJA ABDUL GHANI MIA MAHARAJA DURGA CHARAN LAW NAWAB BAHADUR SYED WALAYET ALI .. . .. MAHARAJADHIRAJ MAHTAB CHAND RAI BAHADUR or BURDWAN . 7. 1. NAWAB ABDUL LATIF KHAN BAHADUR .
Ram Mohan Roy .
it Sunk left in apathy and prepare the fast Ram Mohan Roy way less labours in bound by tradition. proclaimed it unafraid. At once thepioneer of the great Renaissance that was slowly dawning in Bengal and the first representative of India to the British people. he has left an undying claim upon the gratitude of his fellow-countrymen. held their ground unchallenged. his endeavours to purify the Hindu faith. beliefs. striving always to find the truth in all things. and by his wonderful bringing together of East and West in the last three vears o O *t of his c? life. was to of followers to By his cease- the cause of education. men of Bengal in the nineteenth century no name deserves a more honoured place than that of Earn Mohan Roy. still When as yet the old traditions and the old clothed in the gathering ignorance of centuries. 17721833. he opened up to his fellow countrymen new paths of progress and reform. when found. Against ignorance and superstition he fresh waged constant warfare. . and his little band for its Renaissance. Hinduism both in its social and religious aspects had fallen on evil days. he zealously sought knowledge and. his successful advocacy of the abolition of Sati.RAM MOHAN AMONG the famous ROY.
unwilling to refuse his father's last request reluctantly consented to take the unwel- . The dying man. His grandfather. the fifth son. but. he turned girl. thereupon asked to be allowed to bestow his daughter This was' in marriage upon one of Brajabinode's sons. Kanto Roy. he had no alternative save to fulfil his So. only His next three to the eldest to and bade him espouse the refusal. a request that Brajabinode. Ram Kanto Roy. 1772. having done promise. the married to a Brajabinode Roy.swore by the holy Ganges to fulfil it. lay dying on the banks of the Ganges when a priest suddenly appeared before him and craved of him a boon. but was also a priest of the rival sect of the Saktas. it is said.2 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. Brajabinode Roy. at Radhanagar near Krishnagar. therefore. accounted for the fact that his fifth son Ram father of Ram Mohan Roy. as an orthodox Kulin. Kulins had won rank and wealth of Bengal. which in the service of the Nawabs like all his family a zealous follower of the sect. would have scouted had he not sworn by the sacred river. of the highest caste. Ram Mohan Roy was born on May the 22nd. however. so. meet with a determined . anxious to comply with a priest's request. of . one who had broken his Kulin caste. He came a Brahman family.sons also declined in their turn. was whose father not only was a Bhanga girl Kulin. was Vaishnava Nothing but the most unusual circumstances. gave the required promise and further at the priest's request The priest . calling his sons.
When the latter had finished -his first course of study at the local patshala where he considerable hajl already acquired profi- ciency in Persian.RAM MOHAN ROY. was spending his days in pious meditations and religious exercises at Radhanagar and he early took steps to secure for his son a sound classical education. <come "bride and in due course married her. Every home long ran on orthodox Already before he had reached an age of discretion he had been married three times according to Kulin Brahman . Here his studies appear to have been somewhat more liberal than those usually indulged in at the time and he is said to of Euclid have become acquainted with Arabic translations and Aristotle as well as with the Koran. earnest but entreaties withheld him from influence leaving home as a sannya&i. having retired from the service of the Nawab. latter The it is made him to a deep impression on his it mind and probable that was this early study of it that later led question the orthodox beliefs in which he had been brought up. showed signs religious bent of His father. His first religious were naturally for the old faith. however. It is said that at the age of fourteen nothing his mother's. enthusiasms. midst early of Brought surroundings the such orthodox of a Ram Mohan mind. he was sent to Patna and Benares to acquire Arabic and Sanskrit. It 3 was a a strange union from which to spring so ardent reformer as Ram Mohan up in Roy. lines.
There is no record of the for first marriage third 1 but time he was married the nine second years first and old. when he was only His father. The sacred Brahmanical thread was worn by him till the end. TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. grew into arguments. being found upon him after his death in England fifty years later. so eager Yet that* before had been his thirst for knowledgehe had reached his sixteenth year he religious matters was able to discuss with his on an equality father. It thus evident that from his earliest years nothing but the most orthodox influences surrounded the future reformer.fundamentally and hopelessly on matters of belief. zealous and devoted. respectful always on side yet Ram Mohan's 1 - none the less determined and sincere.4 usages. he regarded as Hinduism. How great a hold they retained over him through all his schemes for advancement and reform his future actions show. of his Already faith of studies in to the sacred books had it led him regard the modern practice as a false and degenerate . as they practised overlaid with superstition his and idolatry. until realised that they differed at last father and son . it. Gradually the discussions. from the in the religious continually- instructed him observances of his faith. while his beliefs is mother having accepted her husband's all showed the enthusiasm of a convert. It was a terrible blow to Ram Mohan's orthodox parents and relations.
Here he remained for several years. Deeply as he regretted the breach with his father to whom was deeply attached. of Buddhism and made light Though not yet seventeen and dangers and difficulties adventurous journey setting out on an spent three years in travelling through Tibet. the pure original With Hinduism as yet he had no quarrel. exposition of 5 belief. his thoughts turned towards Tibet. Their religion. he old observances soon again found to be impossible. however. pure as it had been in its origin. home the old 'disheartened and home. surrounded by all the in which he had lost faith. to see if they had truth much he desired to find. studying Buddhism and holding long discussions with the most learned Lamas of the day. and went to reside at Benares. lie which attracted him as the centre of Hinduism where he might hope to find its best exposition and where he might continue his studies in Sanskrit and Persian. he nevertheless recognised the inevitable. So incompatible had of his views become with the orthodox home and so great was his life his family desire for more knowledge that he decided -at to leave home he so least for a time. he regarded as having become as corrupt as his returned Life in i own and he disappointed. Eager to study other preserved the religions. but with the abuses that had crept into it he thus early began his long and gallant struggle.RAM MOHAN ROY. deeply .
had crept into so many established For long he had refrained from any public filial exposition of his opinions. He appears to have spent the greater part of his ten years service under Mr. as of the or Service.6 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. from the desire not to do violence to his father's feelingsX The breach with . Digby. Civil John Digby. being a protest against the idolatry which religions. of the immersed in the study of belief. who later edited Ram Mohan's translations of the Kena Upanishad and his abridgment of the Vedanta. It Hindu Shastras. The on an Already he had begun to publish his first of an immense number of publiinfinite cations variety of subjects was a treatise in Persian with an Arabic preface entitled Tahfut-ul^nuahhidin. For it five years he was first stationed at Rungpur and was here that he began those small gatherings of his friends for reading and discussions in his own house which were afterwards to become such a famous centre of thought and interest. and striving always to gain from them a firm foundation was not until 1806 that Ram Mohan first be- gan the study of English and seven years later that he entered the service of the East India Company. had a high opinion of his abilities and wrote in high praise of the work he did in connection with the survey and settlement operations in which he was chiefly concerned. Mr. whom he served Dewan Sheristadar in Bhagalpur and Rungpur. writings.
he quickly formed a circle of his own. appearance as well as " Ram Mohan Roy well " " wrote an Englishman who knew as in his him surpassed the generality of his countrymen in his personal appearance almost as much .RAM MOHAN ROY. by his family there was thus nothing to prevent Ram Mohan from pursuing the course which he considered right. He pro- tested vehemently against the charges of heresy and godlessness that were brought against him. and to retain the position she Practically disowned had always held. but they would have none of him. From all of them he suffered the most bitter persecution. he his liberality and forbearance by allowing his mother to continue the management of it. His striking personality and force of character from the first exercised an extraordinary influence over all those with all whom he was brought in contact. After his father's death Ram Mohan inherited none of the family property and his relations with his mother and other relatives became unfortunately still more strained. In after days when he showed had come into possession of the family property. his father 7 had been a constant grief to him and though he stood by the old man's bed-side when he lay dying in 1803. Coming to reside in Calcutta. He had the advantages of distinction of manner and brilliant conversational powers. they were far apart in spirit. his mother being particularly incensed against him and making life impossible for him anywhere in the neighbourhood of his old home.
" notes another English friend in the English " Court Journal. hand he burst asunder the meshes of sophistry. suiting his remarks to each and all in excellent taste and commanding the astonishment and hearers. and of various nations In conversation with individuals of every rank and professions. mental powers. that this exalted Brahmin was most he seemed to grapple with truth intuitively and called in invective. to aid him in confutconspicuous : ing his opponents in : if precedent were necessary. how- ever. His countenance wore an expression of blended dignity and benevolence that charmed at first sight and put his visitors at their ease while it checked an irreverent familiarity. sarcasm and sometimes a most brilliant wit. he passed with the utmost ease from one language to another. it was not in a position to reap the full advantages of the . His figure was beyond the common height and muscular in proportion.8 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. had reached well nigh its Not yet wholly emerged from the troublous times of the eighteenth century. a extensive reading : remarkably retentive memory and many languages supplied him with a copious fund ruthless and at times with a rough unsparing. raillery." respect of his When felt in this brilliant personality first made itself Calcutta in the early years of the nineteenth century lowest Hinduism ebb." "It was in argument. error and bigotry in which it might be attempted to entangle him.
in the usual acceptation of the term. Nothing that could be called Bengal had no literature.RAM MOHAN rule of law ROY. and of making for time in their history the Bengali race into a people with great thoughts. Far in advance tion. even a language of its own. of bringing together all that was best and noblest. Hinduism and all that represented had fallen on evil times. as existed was confined to Sanskrit. 9 and order which under British supremacy was gradually settling down upon the distracted land. to lead the nation along straight and honest recognised paths. It was but a meet with he most of his reformer's accepted fate that he should opposition and distrust from those whom strenuously strove to serve. Persian and Arabic. and even the study of these languages fallen had it into decay. A keen patriot gratefully iow much the British Goverment had done for his . Ram Mohan Roy set the whole force of his the first brilliant intellect and personality. yet service. Such education scarcely public opinion existed. there was none. Hindu Society. To the task of restoring and reforming it and of constructing the fabric of Society anew. time he encountered constant abuse and bitter persecueven by exciting opposition he did his country In so doing he aroused public interest where : there had been none before he made men think for : themselves and realise their great responsibilities and above all he created that potent force he public opinion. high hopes and aspirations.
in Gradually was borne upon Ram Mohan Roy first and his little circle of followers that the and most urgent need of their system of fellow-countrymen was a more modern education. man had as Gaining the sympathy of such David Hare. long distracted country and it was his keen endeavour to awaken his fellow-countrymen to the advantages that it offered them. reading of met once a week for recitation and its the Hindu sacred books and the day in Calcutta. adapted to the needs of modern conditions. and to raise them. the one-time watchmaker who so zealously espoused the cause of education in Bengal. and its object was mental.10 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. which in the last half century had so completely changed the face of Bengal. It was a development of the informal gatherings for reading and discussion which he had long held privately in his own. from the slough of despond into which they had fallen. house. Baidyanath . moral It and spiritual improvement. the first Society of its kind in Bengal. discussions a practical scheme After many was determined upon. moraly and mentally. at gatherings were to be found most of the more ardent younger small spirits of From this it beginning came great events. An English College for the education of Hindus in English and western Science should be forthwith started in Calcutta. the Friendly Association. Sir Hyde East. It was in 1815 that Ram Mohan founded the Atmiya Sabha. the Chief Justice.
11 Mukherjee and Dwarkanath Tagore. From the . Yet that he was the moving spirit throughout. \ Meanwhile Government had of the advisability of departing of to be convinced education on strictly from the old system classical lines. anxious only that the scheme on which he had If it set his heart should not be endangered. was not present and when it was proposed at the meeting to place his name on the Committee. When was communicated to him by his friend David Hare. and Ram Mohan. and so energetic was the enthusiastic little band of reformers that associated with the Hindu College was able to begin its work on January the 20th. several members threatened at once to withdraw if he was to be this in any way connected with it. few were in doubt. a meeting was convened on the 14th of May 1816 to carry out the scheme. about this Other schools were founded time by the London Missionary Society at Chinsura and the Baptist Missionaries at Seram- pore and with education all these efforts to provide lines modern heartily on modern Ram Mohan still sympathised..RAM MOHAN ROY. probably divining that the animosity he had aroused in certain quarters might endanger the scheme if too prominently associated with his name. 1817. It was held in Sir Hyde East's house. he could carry that through to a successful issue mattered little that his name was not to be publicly it. Ram Mohan of his withdrawal immediately insisted on the name.
all in the matter of religious but on things social and educational it strove to avoid even the suspicion of interference. the Gita and the Puranas. hitherto its Company had improving on in of directed lines all it its efforts to own what already found existence. When the Fort William College was started in order to give young Civilians a knowledge of the vernacular. Even in such Bengali books as there were. suggested that be given in Bengali. Persian words very largely predominated. be read.12 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. no Bengali grammar and of any kind in Bengali prose. Adam. W hen T Mr. there were no text books few books in Bengali. An extraordinarily large proportion Englishmen in the earliest eagerly into the study of days threw themselves Sanskrit and they were it quick to discern how lamentably had fallen into was decay among the Bengal pundits and how shallow their knowledge of the Vedas and Vedantas. which had well-nigh ceased to As for Bengali it had scarcely yet attained the dignity of a language. It is astonishing to find in what little respect the vernacular was held. the . a friend of certain lectures Ram should Mohan. The pioneers of the English in India showed themselves far more the east to imitate or adapt ready to adapt themselves to the East than to force The itself to them. beliefs Not only . Company had been guided by all outset the East India a sincere desire to avoid ing to force western ideas appearance of endeavourupon the eastern mind.
it had been intended real to keep the British nation from knowledge he wrote. But as the improvement of the native population to keep this . The establishment of the of the Fort William College.' It was not first 1847 that in Vetala Panckabinsati the book pure Bengali was published. saying. convinced that it was along modern lines that the education of his countrymen must proceed they were to grapple adequately with modern conditions. 1$ Indian members of his committee strongly opposed the suggestion.. that 'anything said or written in the vernacular tongue would be degraded and despised in consequence of the medium through till which the it was conveyed. the Governor General. inaugurated a scheme for a Sanskrit College in Calcutta.. the Sanskrit system of education would be the best calculated country in darkness. urging the necessity of adopting the study of west" If ern sciences through the medium of English. Ram if ' Mohan. if such had been the policy of the British legislature.RAM MOHAN ROY. anxious to fulfil its part. Hindu College and of the various Missionary Schools gave a considerable impetus to the cause of Government. "the Baconian philosophy would not have been allowed to displace the system of the schoolmen which was the best calcuIn the same manner " lated to perpetuate ignorance. an annual grant of a lac of rupees being set aside for the revival of classical learning. wrote to Lord Amherst. education.
000 being recovered. good sense and and it was largely owing to forcible arguments Ram Mohan's exertions that. . this sum would have been the only Rs. chemistry. befell on the same day. which was the means eventually of bringing it into closer touch with the authorities and placing on a firmer footing. instruments and other apparatus. the object of the Government it will sub- sequently promote a more liberal and enlightened system useful of instruction embracing mathematics.13. stones of both being laid tune however the outset. Misforthe Hindu College almost at The merchant who had been entrusted with its funds. and sciences. suddenly failed. 23. educated in Europe. The loss of ruin of the College had not government at once come forward to its assistance. amounting to Us.179. 1. by employing a few gentlemen of talent and learning. although the Sanskrit its ' who admired ' College for the was founded Hindu a building was founded College adjoining it. natural philosophy. good English. the foundation in 1824. anatomy with other be accomplished with the sums proposed. which may providing a College furnished with necessary books. The formation of the Committee of Public Instruction in 1823 by order of the Company showed the interest that it financially 'Government was taking in the matter and assured a ibrighter outlook for education in time to come.14 is TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL." The letter was forwarded to the Governor General by Bishop Heber.
could do nothing.and soul to the abolition of this revolting practice. 15 had meanwhile been waging incessant war against what he rightly considered one of the most depraved customs that was forming a dark upon the Hindu faith. the drums and musical instruments sound- ing loudly meanwhile to drown her shrieks. had had bitter experience in blot Of the his evils of Sati he death of his elder brother On the family. . and from that time onward he became the leader of the gallant it little band of men to whose exertions was largely due that Sati was finally prohibited. one against many. only to be horrified his by a scene that remained burned of memory. a reluctant spectator of this heart-rending scene. he had hastened home own for ever in to be present at the funeral ceremony. But when the torch had been applied and the flames leapt up. helpless in the face of her determination and the approval of all her relatives. Ram Mohan. had announced her intention Before his arrival his brother's widow immolating herself on her dead husband's funeral pyre and in spite of all his protestations she remained firm in her resolve. until she lost con- friends. Mohan.RAM MOHAN Ram Mohan ROY. was forced to stand by. Then and there he vowed that he would devote himself heart . her courage forsook her and she tried to escape from the burning logs. Thereupon the forced her priests. thrust her back with long bamboo poles and down among . Ram helped by her relatives and the flames.sciousness.
though sanctioned by the shastras. in He his therefore first endeavoured by every means power to bring home to this fellow-countrymen the real hideousness of the His pen seemed never to flag and treatises. practice. of all law . Having suffered so from persecution himself. he was utterly severely opposed to coercion in any form. He pointed out how the practice ' had largely grown up owing to the avariavoid the cost of cious desire of thejrelatives to * supporting the widow and how it was too often regarded not as a religious act but as a choice enter- tainment instincts. may be some sanction in the sacred writings for the practice. letters and articles. insisted He Sati. even compelling people to do what was by any means they could be brought to do right what was of by persuasion and a greater diffusion knowledge. Ram Mohan carried out his campaign with thoroughness. the greatest. that appealed 1 ? to the lowest in the human One of his treatises was form of a dialogue between an advocate and an opponent of The opponent maintains that though there Sati. if characteristic possible. if right. In them he was careful to maintain an attitude of orthodox Hinduism. yet that Manu.16 TWELVE MEX OF BENGAL. He would avoid. written many of them in the vernacular and in the simplest possible language SO' that they might reach the humblest. were disse- minated far and wide. was not enjoined by them as a compul- on the fact that sory religious duty.
quoting certain passages done.' Not content with combating the evil from the comfortable vantage of his desk. been the practice to funeral tie pyre so that down upon the was impossible. performing honest duties. the Shastras that required this to be His hope that the sight of the flames might the turn widow from her intentions was often fulfilled though in other cases. It has often. avoiding. of credible eye-witnesses that cases have frequently the occurred where 2 women have been induced by . Ram Mohan tion to the Governor-General which organised a petiwas signed by a great number of the most respectable inhabitants 'Your petitioners are fully aware from their own knowledge. but escape the victim Ram Mohan the flames in insisted that the pyre should first be lighted so that the if widow might voluntarily enter so she desired. Finally. and should ' 17 live widow should till continue death forgiv- ing all injuries. every sensual pleasure and cheerfully practising the incomparable rules of virtue.' it ran. 'or from the authority of Calcutta. disheartened at the slow pro- gress of his campaign. drove her to self- inimolation. the fear of the priests and the exhortations of her own relatives or promises of reward in the life to come.RAM MOHAN ROY givers expressly enjoined that a as an ascetic. he was constantly to go to the Calcutta burning wont ground and attempt by personal persuasion upon both the victim and her friends to prevent the Sati.
of burning with their deceased husbands. It was. have been carried back by their relations and burnt to death. are murders according to every Shastra. more especially in the case had prevented the Company from taking active steps. a difficult position. Sati was undoubtedly a rite sanctioned by the Hinduism of the day. with which according to the principle they had adopted they should not interfere. interested in their destruction. as they considered it.' The question the anxious its sincere desire of Sati had for years been engaging attention of Government. to burn themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands . as well as to the common sense of all nations. have been forced upon the pile and there bound down with ropes. yet it was impossible for them to stand by and see human life.18 persuasions of their next heirs. wantonly sacrificed. All these instances. and pressed with green bamboos until consumed with the flames . that some. a religious rite. Here again not to interfere with native customs and of observances. Yet here was a religious complete religious observance which to them was opposed to every sentiment of humanity. that others who have been in- duced by fear to retract a resolution rashly expressed in their first moments of grief. your petitioners humbly submit. From the outset the Company had scrupulously maintained the principle it had adopted of full and toleration. It was i . after flying from the flame.
as they hastened to The Judges were protest. was counshould be . After much anxious discussion and consultation with some pundits of the day. the courts could only declare illegal any interference with it.RAM MOHAN HOY sufficiently 19 willingly repugnant to them when the victim immolated herself. 1813. in a most embarrassing position. however. The practice of Sati not being illegal. as "happened in so many cases. being practically forced to give the 'barbarous rite' their protection and lay themselves open to the charge of unnecessarily aiding and abetting suicide. trusting to persuasion and Tioping that as education spread among his fellow- countrymen they would of their own free will abandon -so inhuman a rite. and cases brought by the aggrieved Tiad occurred in which the local officers relatives had come before the courts. Government's instructions to its officers accordingly were that though the practice it it could not be forcibly prevented where tenanced by Hindu religion and law. Bitterly opposed to the practice as he was. Several instances had humanely widows from being forced against their will prevented to commit Sati. When. the Governor-General officers on April the 17th. thus put. she was actually forced on to the funeral pyre against her will. instructions to all of the most learned issued . hesitated to advise the im- TSven Ram Mohan Roy had mediate total abolition of Sati by Government. he yet dreaded compulsion in any form. it was impossible to stand by and permit it.
who suc- ceeded Lord Amherst as Governor. In January 1815 a further step was reached when the Sati of a widow with very young children was forbidden. the practice. still deeply in concerned of in the hesitated. while two years later a further Letter of Instruction was issued. Meanwhile it was a fact to its which Government could not shut since the year 1813 officers eyes that. it had not the sanction Hindu law. had increased to an alarming extent. Government. the practice was not- showed that. exertions officers would gradually bring about the extinction of this barbarous ^rite. in 1828 Ram While believing no less than Mohan Roy. the number of Satis was more than doubled.20 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL all prohibited in of cases where is..' Lord William Bentinck.. he was unwilling to wait indefinitely for a reform that he considered urgently needed. matter. when the first instructions to far had been issued. to decree its abolition. however. During the four years 1815 to 1818. Statistics still however much had been hoped from a gradual spread of education and a quiet insistence on the part of local officials. whom he personally consulted on the subject. in the advantages of persuasion over force. in which statistics were taken. Lord Amherst the Governor-General still trusting that 'general of instruction local and the unostentatious . so from diminishing.General was of another opinion. . that where the victim was unwilling. view the general prevalence and acceptance of the practice.
21 The gradual take of innocent enlighten- ment would of the people would years. All persons who aided or abetted it. though it met will Lord William Bentinck's credit with full much opposition at the time.' The services that Ram Mohan had rendered in the cause of abolition were fully recognised.RAM MOHAN ROY yet sensibly on the decline. were declared guilty of culpable homicide. whether the widow consented or not. Henceforward it was punishable as a criminal offence. To always be remembered that he boldly took the course he considered to be right. the measure was a welcome one and in the address presented by him and his friends to the Governor-General shortly afterwards was expressed their 'deepest gratitude for the ever-lasting obligation large. It was his insistence on the fact that Sati in compulsory duty the Shastras was nowhere enjoined as a and that there . it of To Ram Mohan Roy. On December the 4th. has received the approval of posterity. was published the decree that finally abolished Sati throughout British India. a course which. and hundreds be human meanwhile wantonly it sacrificed. and where violence was used against the victim was in the power of the court to pass sentence death. convinced of its wisdom and necessity.' for conferred on the Hindu community at which they were 'at a loss to find language sufficiently indicative even of a small portion of the sentiments they desired to express. perhaps lives generations. 1829.
his wife having overheard a long religious discussion between her husband and his friends. It was only its errors and abuses against which he waged continual war. Ram of knowledge in matters belief Mohan's quest had been single unceasing.22 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL " were passages in" Hindu law entirely inconsistent with it. he paused. To all that was best in Hinduism he whole-heartedly adhered. its and that made abolition possible in the face of the very strong it opposition aroused. To all that was good and honourable and true in whatever religion it might be found he gave his allegiance. asked then is of him in bewilderment "Which religion the best and highest ?" For a moment struck by the appeals directness of the question." Of his large-heartedness and broad-mindedness there opinions essence of but the are innumerable examples. then in answered to the the illustrative manner " that are so of eastern mind Cows different give is colours but the colour of the milk they the same. Although not a Christian . efforts in the Throughout all his tion and the abolition after cause of educa- of Sati. Once in the early days. Different teachers have different every religion is to adopt the true faith and to live the faithful life. that induced the British Government to* abandon in this one instance its position of non- interference with religious practices. Always with earnest and mind he had sought the truth.
and he gave 23 good work that the doing among his fellowcountryhis fullest sympathy and support to any society or any scheme that cordially cooperated in the great work of educating and raising status in of the the of Hindu community. Brahmin of high] had specially annexed his sanction. with a Presbyterian were read. spite theological differences with he warmly supported the Presbyterian Church in its work in Calcutta and to him in some measure may to be attributed the coming of Alexander Duff India. on the plan that it out." On for his arrival Alexander Duff at once met with the ready assistance of Ram Mohan who house and his first secured scholars. and to which himself a is now so successfully following this] eminently gifted scholar. it. him his first school On the opening day he himself was present to smooth difficulties away any endeavour start. that might arise and to to give the enterprise a favourable When the orthodox objected to his connection school. The Church of Scotland ^Chaplain in Calcutta wrote home : "Encouraged by the approI bation of Ram Mohan of presented to the General Assembly first 1824 the petition and memorial which directed the attention of the Church of Scotland to British India as a field for missionary exertions.". his With this object.RAM MOHAN ROY he was keenly alive to the missionaries 'were inen. Ram Mohan where the scriptures replied "Christians have . caste.
he hesitate to proclaim them." This was the attitude impartiality that he always adopted. then judge for himself. : studied the Hindu Shastras and you htave not I myself have read the Koran again and again but has that made me a Musulman ? Nay. Government over the famous Jury Act of 1827 which considered he introduced unjustifiable to religious distinctions into the judicial While system of the his country. and how many places plantations had culti- brought a wide area of waste land under . all Let each man enquire and gain the knowledge that he could. did not having obtained a true version of the facts. difficulties. I have studied the whole Bible and you know I am not a Christian. he was equally of strong in defence at of the indigo planters Bengal. He pointed out how in widely indigo had the benefited Bengal. Ram Mohan was as fearless in supporting Government against the prejudices of his fellowcountrymen as he was in pointing out to the authorities failed any injustice that they committed or he strongly opposed remedy. whom. Why then do you fear to read it ? Read it and judge of- for your- selves.24 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL know that they become Hindus. He and once his instituted special and private inquiries on own account into the circumstances. the of time of certain indigo labour the Indian community at a section was vilifying.
^ince in many instances the planters have successfully greatly preponderates over the latter. I. and am happy to say that the former If any class would gladly see them turned out of the country. first 1828. his followers should it Ram Mohan joined the was inevitable that he and of form a separate community Theistic their own. This came to pass on August the 28th. adding that it 25 mature opinion that "the indigo planters have done more essential good to the natives of Bengal than any other class of 'This is a fact which I will not hesitate persons. At the outset was Brahma Sabha. same time.' his was to affirm' he wrote 'whenever I may be questioned in on the subject either in India or at the Europe. until eighteen months later that the for the worship of the was not building in the new society was dedicated presence of about five hundred Hindus of all classes. of natives protected the ryots against the tyranny and oppression of their landlord. the Society of God. it would be the Zemindars in general.RAM MOHAN ROY vation. But you are well aware that no general good can be effected without some partial in this instance I evil.' Although for a time Unitarian Community. when the Church it of modern India called simply It first was founded. must confess that there are of indi- viduals that class of society who either from hasty disposition or want of due discretion have proved obnoxious to those who expected milder treatment from them. .
1830. hereditaments and premises. picture. occupied. particu- larly used for an applied Beings. tenements. as shall behave and conduct themselves in an orderly. religious and devout manner.26 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. carving. painting. who is the Author and Preserver or of the universe. land. Radha Persaud Roy Tagore. statue or sculpture. offering or and premises : and tha no oblation of any kind : of thing shall ever be permitted therein and that . sober. any particular Being or and of men whatsoever thing. hereditaments sacrifice. By its terms the Trustees Shall at all times permit the said building. tenements. The trust deed dated formed the declaration of faith of January the ' 8th. enjoyed. transferred the Trust Property to three and Rama Nauth Boykonto Nath Roy. Ram Kaleenuth Roy. The building was situated in the Chitpore Road and the names of the five 'Settlers' were given as 'Dwarka Nath Tagore. building. portrait or the likeness of any. designation to. land. applied and appropriated as and for a place of public meeting. new community. or title. For the worship and adoration of the Eternal Unsearchable and Immutable Being. shall be admitted within the messuage. and Ram Mohan Roy/ who Trustees. Prassunnakoomar Chunder Bidyabagish. and descriptions of people. to be used. by any men or set that no graven image. Tagore. of all sorts without distinction. with their appurtenances. ' but not under by any other name.
prayer hymn be delivered. land. benevolence. to the promotion of charity. or shall hereafter become. discourse. ' of life. either in preaching. tenements. no animal or living creature shall within or 27 on the said messuage. either for And that no eating or drinking (except such as shall be necessary by any accident for the preserva- tion of life) feasting or rioting be permitted therein or thereon. ' And that in conducting the said worship or adoration no object. be deprived religious purposes or for food. morality. or other mode of worship that may be delivered or used in the said messuage or building. virtue and the strengthening the bonds of union between men of all religious persuasions and ' creeds. or is. preaching. heredita- ments and premises. building. or be recognised. piety and morality be employed by the said Trustees as a resident superintendent and for the purpose of superintending the . by any be man or set of men. made or used in such worship but such as have a tendency to the promotion of the contemplation of the Author and Preserver of the Universe. animate or inanimate that has been. praying or in the hymns. And also that a person of his known for good repute and wellknowledge.EAM MOHAN ROY. or 'And that no sermon. as an object of worship. shall reviled or slightingly or contemptu- ously spoken of or alluded to. piety.
Montgomery Martin relates how lie took up his residence with him in order that he might watch over and protect him. he had too effectively attacked the retain abuses that had become a part of it. For many years he . The bitterness aroused against Ram Mohan of in certain quarters was very great.sities. The storm of opposition he aroused would have overwhelmed a weaker man. its earnest endeavour and simplicity of faith and its strong desire to avoid the condemnation of others make this trust deed a remarkable document in an after a greater sincerity age of intense bigotry and bitter personal anmo. and his friend Mr. it was counted to him as nought compared with his break with the old shibboleths of his faith. to escape the hatred of the orthodox.' and expressed Its : breadth of sympathy.and freedom of speech were then in their infancy. ' clinging that was best in Though still Hinduism and outward performances necessary to observing his caste.^8 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. mustered all the forces at its command to all all against the reformer. worship so to be performed as is hereinbefore stated that such worship be performed -daily or at least as often as once in seven days. and Hinduism. Freedom thought . Though he had proved again and again how deep was his zeal for the public good. which had so long exacted unquestioning and blind obedience. So fierce was the feeling against him that latterly his life was in danger.
fully. To break through centuries of tradition and brave the journey to England in those days needed no little courage." runs were beside you and could explain matters. a e named among Hindus thing hitherto not to and least of all among Brahmans. but above all to lay the case for progress on behalf people of his fellow and the British countrymen before the British Government.RAM MOHAN ROY. He was anxious not only to meet with the greatest and most advanced thinkers - of the day. A letter of introduction given the celebrated Jeremy picture of the " If I Bentham by a friend of his togives an illuminating: man and the of the undertaking. He waited patiently until he had by perseverance and exertion acquired a little but respectable party of disciples. " letter. to familiarize . you would comprehend his the greatness of the undertaking going on board ship to a foreign and distant land. had been intending to visit 29> England and convinced of the sincerity and fidelity of his following after the last founding of the Brahma Sabha in 1830 he felt that at the time had come. natural His grand his object besides the one of satisfying own laudable spirit of enquiry has been to set a : laudable one of and every example to his countrymen and gradual moves that he has the slow to his actually quitting India has made preparatory been marked by the same discretion of judgment. He talked of going to England the- from year to year since 1823.
suspects every- body and of trusts no body. His journey to Europe . two Hindu servants and two cows to supply 1830. The good which excellent and ex- traordinary man has already effected by his writings . He was the laws of caste.and example cannot be told. to observe careful. -time is He now mind this come and that the public equal for the exploit.:30 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. Ram Mohan's three years in England were fraught -with far-reaching results.' even when breaking so far with Brahmanical tradition as to cross the sea. and that his friends might in the meantime increase judges that the is in numbers and confidence. sati But for his exertions would be in full vigour at the present day and 'the influence of bigotry in all its current force. and who knows that Ram res- Mohan Roy greatly disapproves of many so of the acts Government should have shown him rank and much pect as to furnish of him with introductions to friends political influence in England. him with milk. and throughout the voyage and Albion ' during his stay in England he endeavoured to continue the strict Brahmanical observances which he had always carefully maintained. It is men I had ever met no small compliment to such a man that even a Governor General like the present. who. '' He took with him on board the by which he sailed in November the 19th. He is withal one of the most modest with. though a man of the most honest intentions. of minds the orthodox by degrees to this step.
His bold example stirred his countrymen to follow in his wake. welcomed alike by the English Church and non-conformists. what . learning and dignity of He in his own person their Indian fellow subjects. the piety. familiar at highest circles of society. His name stands out as the pioneer of that long line of Indians who have since gone westwards to grasp in a day the knowledge that the west has taken such long years to come by. won His a new respect for his race among Englishmen. intimate way. 31 marks an epoch in Indian development. became in the eyes of those. and equally at home in every circle of society.RAM MOHAN ROY. Before him no member of the highest caste had dared to break the spell which the sea had laid on India. The presence of Ram such a brilliant personality as that Mohan brought home to the British people of in a personal. He was the first Brahman to cross tjie ocean and the first ever to be received by an English king. most part had never before seen an Indian at the embodiment of the Indian Empire. tion of larly His learning and culture evoked astonish- iment and admiration. Ram Mohan Roy England was not only enabled to inter- . court and in the tall dignified figure. who for the all.the He was the complete refutauntra veiled western mind had popu- by his visit to adopted as the Asiatic type. as nothing else could well have done. and served to bring them into closer touch with the great nation with -whose destinies theirs have become so closely linked.
Though his remains liefar from the land he strove so hard to serve his 27th memory will ever live in the hearts of his grateful fellowcountrymen. HE CONSECRATEDHIS LIFE WITH ENTIRE DEVOTION TO TH WORKINGS OF THE DIVINE SPIRIT ALONE. 1833. HlS . His health graduallv all and though surrounded by little that modern science could provide. To GREAT NATURAL. he did the even greater India to the English. A CONSCIENTIOUS AND STEADFAST BELIEVER INT THE UNITY OF THE GODHEAD.32 pret TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL. service of interpreting The west had long since gone to the East. he slowly sank and died amid x)^tht a faithful company of friends at Bristol September. AND EARLY DISTINGUISHED HIMSELF AS ONE OF THE GREATEST SCHOLARS OF HIS DAY. Above his grave a memorial stone pays this last tribute BENEATH THIS STONE REST THE REMAINS OF RAJA RAM MOHAN ROY BAHADOOR. eager to exploreits mysteries and develop its resources. the ]ast for the first Mohan Roy The great reformer was destined never again return to failed to his native land. With Ram time broke through the bonds which had so long held it and began the journey to the west. England to India. TALENTS HE UNITED A THOROUGH MASTERY OF MANY LANGUAGES. He may well be called the first ambassador of India to the English people.
most authoritative sources of information . \ RECORDS THE SORROW AND PRIDE WITH WHICH HIS MEMORY IS CHERISHED BY HIS DESCENDANTS. HE WAS BORN IN RADHANAGAR IN BENGAL IN . HIS EARNEST ENDEAVOURS TO SUPPRESS IDOLATRY AND THE RITE OF SUTEE AND HIS CONSTANT ZEALOUS ADVOCACY OF WHATEVER TENDED TO AD- VANCE THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE WELFARE OF MEN. 1833. 1774.RAM MOHAN ROY. THIS TABLET . MORAL AND POLITICAL CONDITION OF THE PEQPfcE OF INDIA.* AND DIED AT BRISTOL. * According to the this should be 1772. 33 UNWEARIED LABOUR TO PROMOTE THE SOCIAL. LIVE IN TH*E GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF HIS COUNTRYMEN. 27TH SEPTEMBER.
Hazi Mahomed Mohsin .
HAJI MAHOMED 1730-1812. a merchant prince of of Persia. No Muhammadan tury has left Bengal in the nineteenth cen- name than piety behind him a greater or more honoured Haji Mahomed Mohsin. but . For over a hundred years the great Trust that he left all behind him has kept his memory fresh. who wake come compatriots had following in the many of his adventurous to seek his fortune in India in the eighteenth century. not only to his own co-religionists but to Bengal of whatever caste or creed. His grandfather on his father's side was Agha Fazlullah. Here Agha carried on aa extensive mercantile business. The life of Haji Mahomed Mohsin was full of romance. its educational and philanthropic work all For time it promises to remain a great and living memorial of his name. and philanthropy he set. By his learning. in MOHSIN. while the century was yet young. a splendid example of all that a good citizen should be. For a time he resided at Murshidabad where the Viceroy of Bengal held court and where the English factory was slowly but surely establishing its its position and increasing Fazlullah scope and influence. conferring immense benefits on succeeding generations and still continuing to-day.
a his desire in prosperity. like a good Muhammadan. and with it that the name of his famous grandson was to be indissolubly associated for all time. It was in Hooghly that the fortunes of his family were to reach their height. build' mosque that should be worthy of Already there was a fine Immabara it his fortunes. coming originally from Persia like Agha Fazullah. It occupied a splendid site on the river bank. but had fallen into disrepair. That monarch had conferred upon him extensive jagirs in Jessore and other places in Bengal. close by the Fort and thePortuguese Factory. Already settled in Hooghly was one AghaMotaher. who. where somany of his countrymen had won fame and fortune before him. So well did he manage his newly the- acquired wealthiest lands that he soon became one of men in the province. Viceroy of Bengal. and commanding wide reaches of the river to the north and south. and finally 1 Agha Motaher. Agha Motaher . eager to take possession- himself set out from Delhi for the eastern- province on the outskirts of the empire. he finally settled there with his son Haji Faizullah. there. who was already associated with him in his business undertakings. He had made was to his headquarters at Hooghly and there. built by Murshid Kuli Khan. had won his way at the court of Aurungzeb.36 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL the rising finding port of Hooghly a more- convenient centre.
during Presenting a massive golden amulet to the child. the construction of the building which after began many additions and improvements has survived as the great Imambara of to-day. all his affections child. In the prosperity of Agha Motaher there was one thing lacking. was on no account The child being of instructions were implicitly obeyed. possessed. No made for his and shortly afterwards married Haji Fazlullah.HAJI resolved MAHOMED MOHSIN 37 to rebuild it and. such tender years. Round this only named Manu Jan Khanum. . She seems at oncfe to have set up an independent household on her own account. others saw that the great man's and when the to contain his will amulet was opened after his death it was found whereby he left her all that he provision appears to have been widow. the son of Agha Fazlullah. obtaining permission. A curious story to his told of of the his device will he secret adopted keep the contents lifetime. her late husband's friend and compatriot. centred. he told her that it would prove of immense value it to her after his death but that to be opened while he lived. He had no son. probably because she already had property of her own. For many years he was childless and it was only in old age that a daughter was born to him. The only child of this marriage was the famous Haji Mahomed Moshin. and dying when she was only seven years left old he is her all his property.
in the household of Haji Faizullah. Manu Jan* Khanum. Agha Shirazi by name.38 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL Born in 1730 A. and the strong and deep affection that always existed between them was one of the first recollections of their childhood's days.. Here again he had guidance. Following the usual studies in Arabic Muhammadan custom of those Mahomed Mohsin early began to prosecute hi& and Persian. was old enough to be placed under the care tutor was a Persian she continued her studies as his fellow pupil. he was wont to relate to hi pupils stories of his foreign adventures and of the wonders of lands and thus early Mahomed Mohsin which in became inspired with that desire for travel . Their gentleman. The influence for good that Manu Jan Kanuin in after life exercised over him left its mark and Mahomed Mo shin days.D. who combined with great learning much worldly wisdom and experience. Haji Mahomed Mohsin was eight years younger than his half-sister. they Brought up together were insepar- able companions. From the first she loyally played the part of elder sister towards him watching over his earliest years with tenderest devotion. never forgot the debt he owed to her. and when he of a tutor. Often when lessons were done. for she had the advantage of his sister's already acquired considerable proficiency in those studies while he was still an infant. having travelled in many countries after having left his home in Shiraz and before finally settling down in Hooghly.
A woman of her position and wealth was not without enemies. in which he had been so well grounded by Agha Shirazi. to complete his education Mahomed he was to Moshin was sent to Murshidabad. Mahomed Mohsin returned to his sister's house at Hooghly. was the animosity roused against for by warning her So great. there to learn all that one of the most famous Muktabs of the time could teach him of the Koran and the classics. The same friendship as in their younger days still existed between them and it was shortly after his return that Mahomed Mohsin's watchful of rendering care and devotion were the means her a great service. This plot Mahomed Moshin had in the good fortune to discover his sister and was thus able to save ever. After finishing his studies at Murshidabad. time of the design against her life. Although he had always had a great desire to travel he had felt thatkhis first duty was to the sister to . such opportunity to Finally. to This he marry and so would not be left without a protection in his absence.HAJI after MAHOMED MOHSIN find 39 years gratify. how- Mahomed it Moshin amongst the conspirators that he thought advisable to leave was able to do as his aister Hooghly was about a time. and among a certain number of those who might hope to benefit by her death a plot was formed to poison her. When Haji Mahomed Mohsin left Hooghly for the second time he was some thirty-two years old.
all of copies. hearing good Manu Jan Khanum's happiness and safety was eager to set out into the unknown in search learning. the hardships of the road must have been a rough experience. whom Now that he was free. accounts of Mahomed Mohsin. For his already noted and much of penmanship he was his leisure time waa So beautifully were devoted to copying the Koran. that his was him. truly a Herculean to them being given away when the poor and suffering. his simple living and hard training had endowed him with excellent health. In those days of slow and tedious travel a journey even to the imperial city of Delhi along the beaten track was no light undertaking. while his skill as a swordsman and as a wrestler was to become It famous during always said his travels of throughout India. however. how- ever.40 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL he owed so much. he lost no time in setting out to see the world. of and adventure. these copies penned that some of them are said to have sold for 1000 Us. country visiting all finished After a brief halt at Murshidabad. great strength was never used for oppression or in an unjust cause. Blest with splendid physique. however. he travelled up the famous towns of . It is also said that he made no fewer than seventy-two task. After the sheltered life that he had hitherto led in his carefully tended house on the banks of the Hooghly. while it was ever ready to defend the weak or the helpless.
while on the one hand the Mahrattas and on the other a crowd of western nations were knocking at its gates. Arabia. Persia. then a famous he spent some time enjoying the society of the company of scholars. his visits them strengthening the strain of piety and religious enthusiasm which had always been to inherent in his nature. Persia. moment history the Moghul there was a spirit of unrest. Everywhere The old empire that had so long maintained its nominal grasp over all northern India was rapidly falling to decay. Continuing his journey he made his way through . It was a fascinating drama that was played before the eyes of Haji city. has thus gaining for himself the title of Haji which ever since been coupled with his name. meeting . of MAHOMED MOHSIN It 41 in was a -critical empire. fame of the place had attracted there. content Not of with his Indian experiences limits Mahomed Mohsin travelled far beyond the the Moghul empire. whom the For twenty -seven years he continued his travels in Hindustan. Turkey and Egypt performing pilgrimages to many of the most sacred Moslem shrines. Mahomed Moshin as he travelled from city to tion showing him the beginning of that great transiwhich was to change the face of Hindustan. Internal dissensions had weakened its hold. seat of oriental learning. and Central Asia. he made Mecca and Medina. pilgrimages to the holy cities of Reaching Arabia. At Najaf.HAJI northern the India.
though tempted by every inducement of wealth and honours to remain had no ambition to figure among the crowd of he returned at last to satillities at the Nawab's court and after a short stay in Lucknow Murshidabad whence he had . his fame spread far and wide and. had become the chief centre of Moslem thought and learning.42 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL many adventuies and enduring many hardbut never losing his passion for the road. It was not until he had reached tell his sixtieth year and age was beginning to constitution his that he finally return even upon his iron decided to terminate travels and home. since the best days of Delhi were already past. acquiring fresh wisdom and breadth of view from each new source. with ships Visiting all the famous places of the Moslem world he added greatly to his already large store of knowledge. prepared everywhere for him a great reception. Here the fame of his wisdom and erudition had preceded him and he was welcomed men of the day who were then gathered there. But Mahomed Mohsin. The Nawab Asaf-ud-dowlali was himself a patron of letters and in Haji Mahomed by all the distinguished Mohsin he found a scholar worthy of respect. which. preceding him on his homeward way through India. and one who would be an ornament of his court. Travelling as he did over so extended an area and during so many years. slowly across northern India he Making his way came at last to Luck- now.
beloved. it seems. was brought loss Their short spell of married happiness. adding to and completing what he had begun. Though there were not wanting fill many who aspired to his place. she remained faithful to his memory keeping the control of her . But fate willed otherwise. however r to a sudden close by Mirza Salahuddin's untimely death. nephew her. he determined to settle down to spend his declining years. for the benefit of those who came to worship. in this seat of learning. while still in the prime of life. Khanum had were been known from respected they universally and The Imambara that her father had com- menced. while close by. is Mirza Salahuddin established a hat which still known by his name. Mirza Salahuddin devoting himself to the management of his wife's large estates and entering with her into all her plans for their improvement and the welfare of those all connected with them.HAJI set out so MAHOMED MOHSIN Here 45 many years before. His sister had married her cousin Mirza at of whom he had followed from Persia. Hooghly. In Hooghly itself where Manu Jan childhood. His was a great blow to Manu Jan Khanum who had learned to rely upon him in conducting the business of her estates. she and her husband made their special care. During changes in his long absence there had been great old his home Manu Jan Khanum Salahuddin Mahomed Khan. Agha MotaThe marriage was an extremely happy one.
from whom the stepshe had been so long parted. the messengers whom he "Affection is greater to offer than wealth. suspecting his Khan Jahan Khan motives. and she resolved to summon him from Murshidabad and entrust the whole of her property to his management. that it was his duty to of study come to her assistance. from those that he had spent wandering from city to city with no worldly cares to harass him. It was but ability natural that a widow of such wealth and position should be sought in marriage. he gave up the life and seclusion that he had marked out for himself. Feeling. the companion of her youth. It was only on her earnest solicitations that Mahomed Moshin was prevailed upon to leave his retreat at Murshidabad. management became too heavy a burden for to Her thoughts naturally turned brother. The knowledge of the help he was enabled to render to his sister and the pleasure of her society were. of Hooghly she replied to sent with the offer of his hand. . Among them was Nawab but. You have not been able how therefore can I give you years.44 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL own hands and showing great tact and affairs in her the management of them. the me the less ?" With advancing of her vast estates her. and Manu Jan Khanum in was not without suitors. The years that followed must have been busy ones very different for Mahomed Mohsin. and came to Hooghly to undertake the arduous duties of manager of his half-sister's great estates. however. the greater.
the same simple frugal life of the traveller and the scholar that he had always known. It was thus not until Haji Mahomed Mohsin had reached the age of seventy -three that he became possessed of the great wealth which he was to put to so good a of his use.D. leaving as the affection for She died at the age of eighty-one in 1803 last and greatest proof of her Mahomed Moshin a will bequeathing him the whole of her estate.HAJI MAHOMED MOHSTN 45 however. relieved of all Manu Jan Khanum. He lived as he had lived before. devoted her remaining years to charity and prayer r tenderly earliest cared for by Mahomed Mohsin whose years she herself had so carefully watched over. man two companions Murshidabad. anxiety as to her worldly affairs. But in so- . He had never married and the death half-sister is left him without near relatives. it is true. There lived with him. sufficient compensation. the of this old in its utter loneliness. But little how undismayed by the Mahomed Moshin set estate wisely responsibilities before him. this new access of wealth made but little well. A. but whom he had brought with him from Rajib AH Khan and Shakir AH Khan r they were truly his friends subsequent events were only too clearly to prove. and change. There something pathetic in the figure which the great wealth that had suddenly come to him but served to accentuate. the himself to administer So far as he was personally concerned.
But recognising him as a resident of the place who had fallen on evil days. Once. quickly overpowering him. ous heart. he made it his personal concern to seek out those who needed help. Shamed and penitent. Helplessness and poverty alone were sufficient passwords to his large and gener- magnanimity and generosity. the starving widow and the helpless a Though and orthodox Muhammadan. his inheritance was welcome to him. the thief implored his pardon. Not content with relieving to his those cases of sickness or distress that came notice. Many stories are told of his sprang up and seized the thief. waking opportunely. Almost the whole of his large income charities he spent in charity.' and relieving their distress.46 far as it TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL enabled him to widen the sphere of his and kindly deeds. So astonished was the thief and so grateful for the it generosity shown him that even though his was to own detriment he could not refrain from relating . helping suffering humanity. he took no account of caste or creed when it was a case of strict orphan. he released him and upbraided him for his unworthy conduct. it is said. a thief broke into Tiis house and entered his sleeping apartment at dead of night. It is said that he was even wont to disguise himself poorest quarters of and wander through the the town seeking out the ' famished beggar. Mahomed Mohsin. Mahomed Mohsin not only set him free but gave him money to tide over his immediate difficulties.
however. Mahomed Moshin. he signed a Deed of Trust.HAJI MAHOMED MOHSIN 47 the incident in after days. this object. &c. Fuzloollah. and Purgunnah Sobhnal also appendant to the Zillah aforesaid. This With deed is now preserved among the on one it treasures of the Imambara at Hooghly. setting apart the whole of his income for charitable purposes in perpetuity. (known and distinguished as Imambara) and also [Market] situated in Imambazar. and all the goods and chattels appertaining to the Imambara the whole of which agreeably to a separate list . and one house situated in Hooghly. Hajee senses Fyzoollah. with my own of free will and accord. That the Zumeendaree Purgannah Qismut Sueed- pore. appendant to Zillah Jusur. and Hat Hooghly. on April the 26th. so that all who pass may read The will of the charity of Mahomed 'I. . runs son of Hajee Mahummud Agha Moshin. a copy of inscribed. was not these small acts of charity. Mohsin. put to good uses after which he knew now could not be far off. 1806. always maintaining that it was Mahomed Moshin's magnanimous conduct that had saved him from sinking into still lower depths of crime. content with He was anxious that his great wealth should be his death. son of inhabitant of all Bundur and Hugli. in the full possession of my faculties. do make the following correct and legal declaration. of the walls of in English has which been facing the river.
son of Ahmud Khan. little a permanent Appropriation for the following exand have hereby appointed Rujub Uli penditures . they might consult. after paying the revenues of Government. aiding and assisting each other. age] might arise from it. in manner as follows : that the aforenamed Mutwallies. in it. come desire my to legal heirs : and as I have full wish and keep up and continue the usages and expenditures charitable [Murasumo Ukhrahat-i- husneh] of the Fateha &c. as possessing understanding. who have been tried and approved by me. religion and probity Mutwallies (trustees or superintendents x of the said Wuqf or Appropriation. and whatever [by way of appendwith it. have devolved on the proprietary . and Shakir Khan. advise and agree of the business together in the joint management of the said Appropriation.. and or much. shall divide the remaining . and of which possession I enjoy up to this as I have no children. son Uli of Sheikh Mohummud Sadiq. who would bechildren.48 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL me by inheritance. knowledge. immunities. nor grandtime present nor other relatives. relate or belong to it as entire. Khan. or from it. which I have given in trust to the above two individuals -that. with privileges. I therefore hereby God the whole of the above property. of the Huzrat [on whom be blessings and rewards] which have give purely for the sake of been the established practice of the family. whole and all its rights.
Mutwalli finding himself unable to conduct the business of the Appropriation. shall appropriate themselves for own expenses.HAJI MAHOMED MOHSIN 49 produce of the Muhals aforenamed into nine shares of which three shares they shall disburse in the observance of the Fateha of Huzrut Syud-Kayunat (head of the creation) the last of the Prophets.. full the Mutwallis aforenamed after me. Imambara and Cemetery in . monthly stipends of the stipendiaries. peadas and other persons. in the year of Hijree 1221. corresponding with the . fit and proper. have to retain. and Imams (on all of whom be the bless- of the sinless ings and peace of appertaining to (ten the God) and in the expenditures Ushra of Mohurrumool-huram blessed days of feasts and festivals of the days of the sacred Mohurrum). who at this present moment them stand appointed. he may appoint any one whom he may think most to act in his behalf. and all other and in the repairs . equal their portion. In the event of a fit them most and expedient. and FOUR SHARES shall be disbursed in the payment of the esta- blishment. Two SHAKES the to Mutwallis. respectable men. In regard to the daily expenses. and of those whose names are inserted in the separate list signed and sealed by me. abolish or discharge to as I it power may appear have publicly committed the Appropriation to the charge of the two abovenamed individuals. as a Mutwalli this For the above reasons documents 4 is given in writing this 19th day of Bysakh.
fail in the great objects for he had designed it. Revered and reslife. For his own personal use he had reserved only so much property as would bring him in about one hundred rupees a month. anxious only to see before his death the great Charitable Trust that he had founded which so administered that it might never.' Haji be required it Mahomed Mohsin lived for six years after making this truly noble disposition of his property. a monument that will last for all time and pected in which already in the century that has passed has caused so many generations to bless his name. that whenever may prove a legal deed.50 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL it Bengal year 1213. Rich beyond the dreams of avarice. he thus raised up to himself while he yet lived a monument more lasting than brick and stone. He lies close by his well-loved stepManu Jan Khanum to whcm he owed both . Upon this small sum he was content to live. It is difficult to imagine a more admirable close to the end of a long and well-spent life than this chosen by Mahomed Mohsin. In 1812 Haji Mahomed Mohsin died at the ripe old age of eighty-two. He was buried with all the simplicity that he himself desired in the garden adjoining the Imambara which he had so splendidly endowed. he voluntarily gave up every well thing. for all time to come. busily employed in setting the great Trust in order so that it migkt be wisely and well administered after his death. sister.
the ad- ministration of the Trust Fund.after his death. with which in spite of the lapse of time so many still regard their memory. It is Haji Ali Mahomed sad to turn from the noble and pious life of Mohsin to the meanness and treachery of those Khan and Shakir whom he had trusted. the remaining two shares were to be their personal property. The income from the property was Three shares were to be divided into nine shares. according to the conditions laid down. to be devoted for ever to religious observances and the maintenance of the Imambara. he had given inumerfor . lavishing his affection upon them in life and generously providing them . To Rajib AH Khan. of and the great inheritance of his Near them are two other graves. those Manu's husband Mirza Salahuddin Mahomed Khan ment or and of her father Agha Motaher.able proofs of his friendship. It was only on the centenary of the foundation of the great Trust that a handsome canopy was erected over them as a fitting outward symbol of the affection and gratitude. By the terms of the will. No fitting monuinscription marked their graves for nearly a hundred years. was left entirely in their hands as Mutwallis. four shares were to be devoted to non-religious charitable purposes -to while be chosen by the Mutwallis for the time being. Jby The two Mutwallis nominated to be allowed to appoint Mahomed Mohsin were .HAJI !his MAHOMED MOHSIN 51 early training Jater years.
while Sakir Rajib Ali the other original Mutwalli not long afterwards also appointed his son Wasiq Ali Khan to succeed him. The two son? of the first two Mutwallis thus reigned in their stead. bears striking testimony to their mismanagement. Mahomed Mohsin had thus and confidence that and take posses- provided generously for his two friends. while the income in order to increase their own profits at the expense of the Trust. soon after Baker Ali AH Khan dying Mahomed Mohsin. XIX came.52 their TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL own successors. 'and the Government revenue was spent on quarrels the managers. appointed his son Khan his successor as Mutwalli. but so far short did they fall of his trust they endeavoured to conceal the will sion of the whole property.' By an order of Syed Ali Akbar Khan was Government to act in conjuncappointed manager by tion with the two Mutwallis and to set the affairs of November the 16th. 1815. forged a perpetual lease in their own favour and that of their relatives.' fell it ran. bribes to the police and amins. 'The proper objects of the endowment were neglected. moreover. They. So scandalous was their management of the Trust that the Board of Revenue was soon forced to interfere under the Provisions of The finding of the court Regulation of Sudder Dewani Adaulat before which the case of 1810. between and gifts to the manager's relatives. into arrears. purporting to have been executed by Haji Mahomed JMohsin before the deed of foundation. .
The Mutwallis made every effort to retain so profitable a stewardship. 1817 the control of the Mahomed the hands original Mohsin Trust estate has thus been -of in Government. they appealed to Calcutta and finally original judgment was. The Since March. and a few months later again restored full management to the two Mutwaldown.S In order to fulfil the intentions -Mutwalli the founder as far as possible. Sved Ali Khan Bahadur beincj nominat- . certain rules for their guidance being laid long. and its confirmation by however. their case repeatedly before the courts. in proving how little deserved this clemency on the part of Governthey ment.sion of On bringing the deci- the Sessions Ju&ge of Hooghly being given against them. however. Finally in They were not 1818.t rest. continuing their course of peculation and embezzlement with renewed vigour. Government adopted this only as a temporary measure. Anxious to interfere as little as possible with the intentions of the original founder. to the Privy Council. Jis.HAJ1 "the MAHOMED MOHSIN 53 Trust on a satisfactory footing. . consistently upheld the Privy Council in 1835 at length set the matter ^. a appointed to have charge of all that concerned the Imambava and the religious side of the . the Collector of Jessore in large whose district a portion of the Trust property lay. ejected them of the from the of Board management with the approval Revenue. of AVH.
pensions and establishment.54 ed as the TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL first Mutwalli under the new order. deeming himself to have succeeded to the full authority and to the power assigned determine subject of by Haji Mahomed Mohsin it Mutwalli considers to be entirely in his of power to funds* upon the appropriation the course to the condition of adhering as in- closely as possible to the wishes of the testator points on which they have been declared. and the expenses of the with the- Imambara. are charges specifically^ . of the former it Mutwallis was before the courts was made a restored therefore- condition of the sale that. in the event of the case- being lost. the sum obtained amounting As the appeal still to upwards- of six lacs of rupees. the purchase money should be obtained with interest. new regulations were drawn up confirming the Trust and' creating the ment Fund. the Mutwalli's allowances. 'Now the appears that the growing income from Jessore estate was the only fund in the it testator's contemplation.' its 'Mahomed Mohsin Education EndowThe Government of India made known decision in the following terms 'The Governor-General in Council. Im 1821 the property of the Trust was sold in putni tenures. * The case having been finally decided in 1835* ini favour of the action taken by Government. The sum was invested in government security so as to be availablein case of need..
will be available for general purposes of a benevolent nature along with the surplus fund to which I shall presently advert. Of the two-ninths of the income assigned to the Mutwallis but which are of the now at the disposal Government. ments priated but as many of the pensions must have lapsed. 'The four-ninths of the Zemindari income appro- by the testator to pensions and establishmust remain burthened with these charges.HAJI MAHOMED MOHSIN is 55 upon that income. remain a permanent charge under this head. estimated by the subof Rs. . The expenses of the hospital will. but he does not deem it necessary to appoint a second Mutwalli or to appropriate the second ninth share assigned by the testator to the This co-trustee nominated in the original will. however. the Governor-General in Council assigns one-ninth to the agent or Mutwalli appointed by the Government. which per annum. therefore.000 committee at Hooghly to yield the sum 'The Governor-General adverting to the conditions of the will resolves that three-ninths of the income from the Zemindaries shall permanently be assigned for the current expenses of the Imambara. ninth. but there appears to be an expense incurred for education at present which will be of course merged in the original fund. 45. the Governor-General in Council considers that the in- come arising from such lapses may be fairly added to the surplus fund appropriable to general purposes.
the entire amount arising from the interest of the accumulated of the fund now invested in promissory notes ment. one. second. may higher departments of education according to the principles heretofore explained. he cannot see that the assignment of the surplus which has arisen in this instance. the entire remainder should be considered as a Trust Fund. if it should be found necessary to renew these. first. after Govern- is of opinion setting apart from the last-mentioned fund such amount as be necessary to provide appropriate buildings. ninth of the annual income of the Zemindaries . 'The Governor-General in Council that. the interest of which with be appropriated to purposes of education by the foundation of a collegiate institution imparting instructions of all kinds in the other items specified. 'In this manner the Governor-General in Council conceives that the pious and beneficent purposes of the founder of the Hocghly endowment will best be fulfilled and under the latitude given for the deter- minations of the specific uses to which any surplus funds of the estate are to be appointed. including the charge of rebuilding or repairing the Imambara and other re- may ligious edifices. partly from the delay in consequence .56 'In TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL pursuance of the principles above laid down there remain at the disposal of Government for general purposes of a beneficent nature. the lapsed pensions and third.
Fund in 1835 only amounted and a now amounts to over a lac lines. Chittagong. was eventually considered too small to justify the expenditure of so large a portion of the Trust Fund upon it. it at Bengal. of their any English Whereas the income from the to 45.000 Rs. and administered on these the . adapted to purposes of education in the manner stated.vo-thirds school or college in Trusl. Rajshahi and and partly for the assistance of MuhaniinaHooghly. it? students numbered twelve hundred in the English and three hundred in the Oriental De- partment. within three days of its opening. The proportion of Muhammadan students. the College was maintained by the Mohsin Fund.HAJI of litigation. will be any deviation from the provision of the dead/ In the following year the ITooghly College was opened with the surplus funds at the disposal of 'Government. half. the building acquired for it being the fine house on the banks of the ITooghly originally built by the famous General Perron. So great was its success that. For thirty-seven years. partly for the support of at Dacca. The College was affiliated to the all Calcutta University and was open to members of religious communities. Madi-iissas ilan students. The income from the Trust Fund thus released was set apart. and the maintenance of the ITooghly College was otherwise provided for. MAHOMED MOHSIN fines realised 57 and partly from the from the mode of management. however. fees by granting them t.
has a charming air of grandeur and repose. a striking inscription of a great gift. It is a magnificent structure on the banks of the Hooghly. them. of the income of the The Mutwali appointed: . of the surrounding country is obtainitself Every where within the building texts from the Koran are engraved upon the walls. Bengal is incalculable. Section 7 of Act In 1867 a committee under of that year was appointed to the management of the Funds allotted for supervise XX this purpose. In one corner ed the Hospital supportby the funds. after first on enlarg- Imambara when the assumed many it alternations since the days of its construction by Agha Motaher. command- ing splendid reaches of the river on either hand. fall Facing northward over the river the walls bear the text of Mahomed Mohsin's will inscribed upon.58 benefit TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL which it has conferred upon the cause of in- education among the Muhammadan community syjent itself.tower above it a magnificent view of the Imambara and ed. out of which opens the Imambara itself. while from the turrets that . while many times a day the sound of prayer ascends. In 1848 two lacs of rupees were ing and improving the building. The inner courtyard. which amount to three-ninths whole estate. whose sole duty now lies within the Imambara in maintaining the religious observances enjoined by the trust. while in another are the rooms of of the quadrangle is the Mutwali. finally the form which bears to-day.
all it keeping so that for time it has been placed in safe may serve the great purposes for which it was designed..HAJI MAHOMED MOHSIN to 59' by Government continues while all draw his one-ninth share. Mahomed Mohsin. Rescued by Government from dissipation and embezzlement on the part of those who should have on his co-religionists been its faithful guardians. * The District of Districts of Jessore Khulna was formed out of portions and the 24 Perganas 1882. fulfilling the intentions of benefits its founder and conferring immense and fellow-countrymen. No man could have raised a greater and more noble monument to himself than that which bears the name of Haji. Thus this magnificent charitable Trust Fund remains after more than one hundred years. of th& . is the remainder of the estate administered by the Collector of Khulna* for charitable and educational purposes.
Ramtanu Lahiri .
associated with the great"
Renaissance in Bengal during the nineteenth century that of Ramtanu Lahiri bears art honoured place.
every good work he set by his daily lifeand conduct a shining example to all those who with
him were treading the
paths of moral and
secret of the great influence he wielded, his saintly
and whole-hearted devotion
to the interests of his
impression on all those who came in contract with him. Though he courageously broke away from the
and the old creeds, it was only in so far as he held that they failed in the light of modern knowAll that was best in them ledge and investigation.
he was eager to retain.
His was no purely destruc-
Bengal in from the
sudden awakening that had the middle of the nineteenth
liamtanu threw the whole
weight of his influence on the side of moderation. He was wise enough to see that no nation, enervated
can spring to
at once capable
TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL
equipped to guide its own destiny with sure and While none was more eager than he to .steady hand.
step forward boldly on the road of progress, he realised
to the full the supreme importance of taking no false
In quietness and in confidence, in slow, carefully-considered advancement lay the strength of the
new nation that was springing Ramtanu Lahiri came of a
family of the highest
Brahmins, a Kulin of long
For several generations
been honourably connected with the important family of the Maharajas of Nadia near Krishnagar. His
great-grandfather, his grandfather and his uncle were
in their service, while his of
younger son, was the Dewan .scions of the same family.
for the loyalty of Rarntanu's
immediate ancestors, while the memories that still many of them show them to have been
of singular piety
Ramtanu's great-grandfather, Ramgovinda, that when
division of the family property took place, every-
thing that \vas of great value was placed in one share while in the other was placed only the family
shalgram and some debbattar land. Ramgovinda, when asked to make his choice, unhesitatingly chose
the latter, willing to face poverty rather than relinquish his tutelary deity and
His grandson Ramkrishna, the father of Ramtanu,
inherited his pious nature.
days he devoted
almost entirely to religious exercises, strictly observing every orthodox Brahminical rule of life. His
simple, well-ordered household was one of
had an influence upon and
him that remained with him through life. Ramkrishna Lahiri had eight sons
daughters of whom Ramtanu was the fifth son and seventh child. His mother was Jagaddhatri Davi,
Dewan Radhakanta Rai
-whose position was second only to that of the Maha-
Taja himself. Ramkrishna, however, who was only Dewan to the Tila Babus, a younger branch of the family, never commanded a large salary and the
education of his numerous family left him in straitened circumstances. His edlest son Kesava Lahiri wr as
-appointed to the sheristadarship of the Judge's court
Jessore and with true
object the rendering of help to his father in
To him Ramtanu
always spoke of him with the greatest admiration
and respect as a perfect type of devoted son and brother. Many little incidents are recorded
of his life showing his unselfishness
was who took Ramtanu
the intervals of his
own heavy Ramtanu's life
TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL
were surrounded by good influences which beat fruit in after years.
1813 at village Baruihuda in Krishnagar in the house of his mother's family. At the age of five he began his education in one of
Ramtanu was born
the local patshalas, then generally located in the hous&
most important man in the village. Thev were schools of the most primitive description, the
guru like his pupils seated on the ground and the latterwriting on plantain leaves for paper with pointed sticks
The teaching was character, and with no terror
hanging over his head, the guru taught as much or as little as he pleased, the whole system being very different from that which came into force after the
awakening of Bengal when the greatest minds of the day had devoted themselves to the cause of education
In 1826, Ramtanu's elder brother Ke?ava took him to reside with him at Chetla, a suburb of Calcutta, in
order that he might secure a better education than
native village could provide.
however, were limited, his salary being only Rs. 30
was therefore impossible
bear the expense of sending Ramtanu to an English At first he had to be content with giving him school.
what instruction he could in his own spare time, teaching him Arabic, Persian and a little English.
With only the
early mornings and a
little English the whole of the day being
occupied with his
was not possible for
to devote the attention to
that he wished, and from the
desire to get
as a free student into
Society's School, but which afterwards bore and bears the name of the Hare School.
David Hare, a Scotsman who had come out to Calcutta as a watchmaker in 1800 at the age
had become one
of the pioneers of
education in Bengal.
no great education
had become firmly impressed with the that a sound English education was essential o
Bengal. Associated with some of the leading Bengali gentlemen of the day, among whom one of the foremost was
Ram Mohan Ray,
he succeeded in starting an English
school for Indian students in the centre of Calcutta.
was opened on the 20th
1817, and in the following year a society was formed
for opening English
and Vernacular schools
parts of Calcutta.
Selling out his business, he
a piece of land sufficient for his support, and being thus free from worldly cares, he was able to devote his whole attention to his pet scheme of education.
his energetic guidance other schools were soon founded in various parts of Calcutta and so great was Mr. Hare's interest in their welfare that it was
go round to
in his palan-
TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL
quin every morning, ending with the Hindu College. He was looked upon with the greatest love and reverence by the students,
to pay for
their education entirely to his
generosity and that of his he had aroused. The story
Ramtanu's appointinsight into the
as a free scholar gives
with which Mr. Hare had to contend.
became known that he kept a number scholarships in his own gift, he became pestered Kesava had become
with applications for them. acquainted with one Gour
a pundit in one of the David Hare schools, and he enlisted his help in endeavouring to secure one for Ramtanu. Gour of the free scholarships
the latter to Mr. Hare's house, but
this first visit did not
prove a success.
applications for the free scholarships, Mr.
become suspicious of the good faith of many of the applicants, and he refused at first to entertain Gour The latter, however, evidently the kindness of Mr. Hare's nature, instructed knowing Ramtanu to remain in waiting outside the great
and to repeat
his request, running beleft
every time he entered or
For two months Ramtanu remained
poor and in straitened circumstances, but hopeful and persistent. It was truly a triumph of importunity, for Mr. Hare at last convinced of
appointed him to a free scholarship
'Raratanu's sincere desire for an English education
time was thirteen years of age. His elder brother, having removed from Calcutta, a
home was found
Khan, a cousin
he met with
in the house of
of his father's, at
kindness, and enjoyed the companMittra, the future Raja,
had been entered
Hare school on the same
The moral atmosphere
was unfortunately then at its lowest ebb. The young men of the city had begun to throw off the restraints which had so long held them in check
every form of vice.
and were indulging in Retaining the outward observancode,
ces of their religion, they
were shamelessly abandon-
ing its principles and living lives that outwardly conformed but inwardly violated every moral code.
It was infinitely to Ramtanu's credit that he passed unscathed through these evil influences among which as a student he was necessarily thrown.
After two years at the Hare School,
with such deligence that he the Hindu College. This
had been established
1817 as the out-
of the exertions
David Hare, Baidyanath Mohan Roy and others, supported
:by the Chief Justice of Bengal, Sir
in the history of Though as yet confined to the few.68 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL in the desire to give the rising genera^- had originated tion a thorough education on western lines. in the same change and But already the of unrest was abroad. Government had endeavoured to encourage education on eastern lines. Warren Hastings with this object had established the Calcutta Madrassa as early as 1781 for the study of Arabic and more recent direction. efforts had been made spirit and Persian. they were convinced that western modes of thought. old creeds A feeling of revolt against the was making had grown up. While fully alive to the many merits of the old regime. education on western appeared the first essential. western knowledge of science and western insistence on moral new life into the decaying structure of modern Hindu society. this spirit of progress was animating of the rising some lines of the most brilliant and able men generation. To such as these. Govern- ment had at first intentionally avoided introducing anything of the kind in its sincere desire to avoid the appearance of forcing a new system of education against their will upon the Indian people. For five years Ramtanu remained at the Hindu college under influences which left their mark upon excellence could alone breathe . So far from desiring to urge anything that might be opposed to their wishes or antagonistic to their train of thought. and freedom of thought itself as it had never hitherto done Hinduism.
' ' with superstition of the ' had become the cries of a section young Bengal party and though the old regime was strong enough to secure the dismissal of Derozio irom the Hindu College in 1831. readings in poetry. which met after. Every subject under the sun was open for discussion. insisting upon all the necessity of straightness in word and deed and above of truth in all the dealings of daily life. Actually connected with the College for only three brief years.RAMTANU LAHIRI 'his 69 full character. Yet while freedom of watchwords strict thought and freedom of speech were the of these meetings. it was only to be anticipated that some members of the little group of reformers should be carried away by the breadth and depth Down with idolatry. literature and moral philosophy took place.' down of their new ideas. who had founded the Brahmo Samaj in 1828. own house than in his ordinary At these social gatherings. it was impossible for it to stem the rising tide of free thought and impatience excommunicate Ram Mohan of the old restraints* . Coming so suddenly after centuries of unquestioning acceptance of the old faith. and practically to Ray. his influence was felt even more in the social gatherings of students at his class instructions. Derozio was then at the height of his brief and meteoric career. Derozio enforced a moral code among his pupils. exercising a sway over the minds of the rising generation of Bengali students that it is difficult to exaggerate. school hours.
his eyesight failed and he was ordered reading altogether. for the time being to give It up all was a terrible blow to and but for his brother's help there is no- doubt that he would have had to give up the career that he had planned. as he always help.70 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL Through all these momentous years Ramtanu: had remained at the Hindu College. he was not forget- and duties. at this time. however. when. few months before the date of it. Lord William Bentick. was determined that if it was humanly possible. a result nation with flying due to solely. . and devoting every moment of his spare time to him. gratefully acknowledged Ramtanu's- The year 1835 is a memorable one in the history of education in Bengal. had long been at variance with the Committee of Public Instruction. Busy with his work of all day and engrossed ful of family ties in the great questions which were agitating Hindu society. latter was reading a- for his exmination for the medical degree. When the time came he passed the examicolours. In 1833 he became a teacher there on the modest salary thirty rupees a month. A The touching^ story is told of his devotion to his younger brother. Kali Charan Lahiri. Ramtanu. he read aloud the prescribed text books over and over again until Kali Charan practically knew them by heart. The Governor-General. which had been. his hopes. his brother should enter as arranged for the examination.
ledge. He and a number of others used to meet regularly in the house of a friend. among other schemes siastic little this enthu- group of reformers devised for the diffu- sion knowledge beyond their own immediate circle. though the medium of decisive opposed by the old school.RAMTANU LAHIRI 71 appointed in 1823. the Gyanuneshun. should be instruction in 1835 of rupees expended in imparting European languages and This sciences through English. Topics were by no means wanting. who came to India as Legal Member of Council. was the production of two journals. and. was eagerly welcomed by the younger generation among whom Ramtanu held an honoured place. soon proved himself a strong ally of the Governor-General and he decided that there was no condition laid down the grant made in 1813. for the renewal and improvement of literature. the Search after Knowledge. Lord Macaulay. Ram Gopal Ghose. that made it inapplicable for the promotion of a in modern English education. action on the part of the Governor General. and the Bengal of Spectator which contained columns both in English and Bengali.' for these years were among the most memorable in . and which was still strongly in favour of an exclusively oriental curriculum. Further they started a club known as The Society for the Acquisition of General Know' where discussions on every subject were freely encouraged. Accordingly Lord William Bentick ordered that the lac granted in 1813.
to whom he had been devotedly attached . there having previously been no adequate school for the training of Indian it students in modern medical science. of absorbing in- by Ramtanu and his David Hare. who. proved a great boon to the These events. . This was a great joy . Kesava to same time Ramtanu lost whom he owed so much. 1835. which are but a It of these years. met with opposition from a certain section of the community as likely to destroy the caste of students. who would be initiated into all the secrets of the dissecting room. and about the his elder brother his famous schools. been founded in of it had long been felt. rising generation. their opinions with the same freedom About the same time the Calcutta Public Library was founded and placed in the Metcalfe Hall on its completion in 1842. His mother. and how many must have been the subjects terest available for discussion friends. were now enabled to write and disseminate in the Press. who had proved so good a friend not only te Ramtanu but to the many other youths who had passed through died in 1842.72 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL The Calcutta Medical College had June.to the group of young Bengal students. and though the want modern Bengal. In the same year also an Act conferring full liberty on the Press was passed. died shortly afterwards. few of the most prominent show how rapid was the progress that was being made. accustomed to express themselves freely in their own private meetings.
being one of the first large colleges outside Calcutta and one of the first-fruits of the revival of education wh'ch had taken such firm root in the Capital. ' Let the votaries of all religions .' he at.RAMTANU LAHIRI 73 In 1846 began a fresh chapter in Ramtanu's life. first He had been entirely opposed to its attacks on Christianity and had not sympathised with its attempts to attach to the Vedas the character of a divine revelation.' were remarkable in an age when bigotry was rife. In that year the Krishnagar College was opened. The same struggle that was going on between the old forces and the new in Calcutta was soon in actual progress in Krishnagar. Princi- Ramtanu being given the post of secod master under him in the Collegiate School. but of the Ramtanu from towards newly established college joined the first had not been wholly its favourable teachings. Ramtanu's breadth of view and broadmindedness . The Maharaja favoured the party of progress and even went so far as to open a branch of the Brahmo Samaj in his own palace. "wrote this time. Here Ramtanu found himself in congenial surroundings after his own heart. L. Richardson was appointed pal. A very large number of the students and teachers him. first Captain D. Our desire should be to see truth triumph. It was under the patronage of the Maharaja Siris 'Chandra of Krishnagar who entered his son's name as one of the first pupils and himself accepted the position of a member of the managing committee.
which alone could lead men to the Truth. meeting them in daily intercourse. and his intense desire for knowledge. freely exchanging ideas with them and discussing with them every aspect His influence in Krishnagar was unbounded.74 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL appeal to the reason of their fellow creatures and let him who has truth on his side prevail. even from the youngest and humblest. Always he advocated free and unrestrained discussion.' But although he did not join the Brahmo Sanaa j he was closely associated with many of its members. believing was only by going to the root of a question and judging for oneself on a full presentment of the facts that it that true knowledge could be acquired. and it was this enthusiasm combined with innate modesty and simplicity of heart that helped to win him the measure. he imparted to others his love of truth. popularity which he possessed in such full day was the question of the remarriage of Hindu widows. Derozio. his respect for freedom of thought and speech. He himself was always eager to gain fresh knowledge. The earliest discussion with regard to it had appeared topics^ One of the most controversial of the . men as David Hare. men who were struggling towards He infused into them The influence that such new life and new ideas. most advanced coterie in Calcutta he of was welcomed by the little group enlightenment in Krishnagar. and Ram Mohan Roy had exercised upon him. Coming straight from the midst of the of religious belief.
being appointed leave Head Master hundred and of the school there fifty on a salary of one rupees a month. rumour quickly gained credence among those who were only too anxious to believe evil of the new party and many families withdrew their sons from the college. while even the Maharaja himself hung back. So great was the influence brought to bear against him. and so well did the opposite party recognise the leading part played forced to his by Ramtanu.RAMTANU LAHIRI in the pages of the T5 edited by the Bengal Spectator. pupils Siris of Derozio. At Krishnagar. reluctant to break completely with the pundits and the influential supporters of the old regime. \ . They began by spreading a rumour that the college students had committed the offence which is unpardonable in the eyes of every orthodox Hindu. But the band of reformers was a small one and the upholders of the old regime were not inactive. the Maharaja Chandra interested himself in the matter and it discussed with the pundits of Nadia while the ardent young reformers in the college held a meeting to express their sympathy with it and their dissatisfaction with other customs of Hindu Society. of having killed a cow and eaten They accused them The its flesh. that the latter was recognise that it would be not only for good of the cause which he had at heart that he should for a time at least benefit but for the own Krishnagar. Accordingly in April 1851 he obtained a transfer to Burdwan.
In October. when a youth pointing . you are a only admit . at ' him the finger of scorn saying. In 1852 he went to Uttarpara as HeadIt old belief . 1851 he broke the last link that bound him to the by removing the sacred thread. that he finally broke with the old Hinduism. keeping : itself abreast of the latest movements. Truly a real Brahmin! on If not. In spite of his advanced views and the persecution he had suffered at the hands of his coreligionists he still wore the Brahminical thread. It was during this period.master of the English school there. is You do ? not believe in Hinduism. A story is told of an incident that helped to induce him slight finally to break the last link that bound him spirit. when Ramtanu doubtless had more time for reflection. the its more he could justification. a position he . to a creed to which he no longer adhered in He was performing the shradh ceremony of his mother at Krishnagar in the manner of an orthodox Brahmin. was only for a year that Ramtanu remained at Burdwan.'76 - TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL social The different atmosphere from that of Burdwan was very Krishnagar.' The taunt cut Ramtanu so as reflection to the heart. In Burdwan there was not the same class of students eager for enquiry and discussion. The latter was o of following closely in the steps of Calcutta.laughed at him. Yet what this Here you are per- forming your mother's shradh with your paita fully displayed.finally hypocrite.
No servant would stay with him. He was content to abide^by what he had done. and that new schools . which would have made him his distress. by conforming outwardly while inwardly he did not believe. Here immediately after his public renunciation of Hinduism lie was subjected to much persecution from orthodox Hindus. such as readopting the paita. that a University should be established in each of the Presidency cities.RAMTANU LAHIRI 77: continued to occupy for four years. seeing urged him to yield on small points. consoled by the knowledge that he had done only what hethought to be right. outwardly conform and would have enabled him to be received again among the orthodox. In 1854 came the inauguration of the new educational policy of government. which directed that the GovernorGeneral should establish an Educational Department a separate Department of the Government of India. said to have been from persecution by nieans of a drawn up by John Stuart as Mill. and he and his wife were often compelled to do all the menial work of the house themselves. Some of his friends. But Ramtanu steadfastly refused to He would not purchase ease and immunity lie. The Court of Directors sent out a despatch. There can be no doubt that the smallest sign of yielding would have been welcomed by the opposite party which fully realised Ramtanu's influence and how great a danger he was to the faith to which they still clung. yield.
over the country The work that Ramtanu did during liim.78 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL should be founded and those already existing supported. erected after his death more than forty years later this tablet to his lie memory in the school where had taught . High English. Middle English all and Vernacular schools sprang up in the years that followed. in It was a great step would have been advance. for without. an impression that it wa? never Those who had benefited by his teaching and example. The new Education Department head and a large number of Schools for the training of Tvas at once established with a Director of Public Instruction at its Inspectors under him. while government aid should be given to those founded by private enterprise. his four years tenure of office at Uttarpara long survived Many a young mind there came under his influence. -teachers was were established and with a rapidity that astonishing. gratefully acknowledging their debt. this generous assistance it on the part it of the Government impossible for education to spread as rapidly as has since done. receiving afterwards to lose.
same personal influence over his pupils as elsewhere. During the few years that succeeded his leaving the Uttarpara school. THE EMOTION. Though . : It any would be difficult for pupils to inscribe to teacher a noble tribute than this. BY HIS SOUND METHOD OF INSTRUCTION. THE HEALTHY STIMULATION OF THE INTELLECT. AND THE WILL OF THE PUPIL. by Government Tippoo especially the edu- cation of Sultan's descendants. Transferred to the Baraset school in 1857. WHICH AIMED LESS AT THE MERE IMPARTING OF KNOWLEDGE THAN AT THAT SUPREME END OF ALL EDUCATION. Ramtanu held several different appointments.RAMTANU LAHIRI THIS TABLET TO THE 79 MEMORY OF BABU RAMTANU LAHIRI Is PUT UP BY HIS SURVIVING UTTARPARA PUPILS AS A TOKEN OF THE LOVE. but after only a few months there he was appointed to the English school at Rassapagla established near for Calcutta. AND ABOVE ALL BY THE EXAMPLE OF THE NOBLE LIFE HE LED. In 1858 he was transferred again to Krishnagar. he remained there about eighteen months. GRATITUDE AND VENERATION THAT HE INSPIRED IN THEM WHILE HEADMASTER OF THE UTTARPARA SCHOOL FROM 1852 TO 1856 BY HIS LOVING CARE. and from its vicinity to Calcutta being exercising the able to keep in close touch with his friends there. BORN DECEMBER 1813 DIED AUGUST 1898.
that fore-runner of the power of the Press in Bengal. leaving the British government stronger and more firmly rooted than eventful years. new learning. Keshub Chandra Ramtanu's stay at Rassapagla. before. the novelist. entering with zest into the controversy. the dramatist. The indigo disturbances were rousing the keenest interest. Bankim Chandra Patriot. Ishvar the poet. Once more Ramtanu was great in close touch with the movements that were life rapidly changing the in Bengal. Haris the Hindu by Michael Chandra Mukherjee. followed Chatterjee. her first Bengal was men. was short and he was transferred the Zilla school there. Dinanbandhu themselves while Mitter. after a brief period of anxiety. condition of and society These were The mutiny of 1857. however. of Young literary producing some Chandra Gupta. of welcomed society the of his opportunity friends in again enjoying the Calcutta. to Barisal as Head Master of This appointment he held . while the transfer of the Company to the Crown had paved the way for the proclamation of the Indian Empire which was to come twenty years later. Madhu Sudhan editor of Dutt.80 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL he reluctant to leave Krishnagar where he had only so recently returned. were of the proving redoubtable champions Sen was already beginning to make his mark as a reformer and as the refounder of the Brahnio Sarnaj. the Hindu Patriot. had passed.
spent in the management of his ." Glowing as this tribute was. discharged his public duties with greater zeal and devotion. then Principal of the Krishnagar College. For the succeeding five and a half years he worked on there. exercising all his old personal fascination upon those who failing health came in contact with him. hoping that the drier climate would prove he returned to his old home at Krishnagar. he lived for nearly thirty years after his retirement. masters and students alike.RAMTANU LAHIR1 81 for only three months. well deserved it was one that was heartily endorsed by every of the college. Mr. in sending up his application for pension to the Director of Public Instruction wrote " In parting with : Babu Ramtanu officer Lahiri. however. This not being the case. being transferred for the third time to Krishnagar in April. They were busy 6 years. or has laboured more assiduously moral elevation of and" successfully for the his pupils. Ramtanu went to live for a time after his retirement at Bhagalpur. to' and then compelled him retire. being seriously affected. and member He left Krishnagar amid universal His health regret. and in Calcutta spent most of his remaining years. Although never again enjoying robust health. I may be allowed to say that Government will lose the services of an educational than whom no one has fidelity. Alfred Smith. 1861. and there beneficial.
Casting off the thread and eating fowls may be faults in others. not unmixed with indignation. Not only those universally respected who came into close and immediate contact with him own home but the poor and unlettered peasant who dwelt without his gates learned to appreciate his worth. who has cast the Brahminical thread and " eats fowls ?" interrogator. one of them ? Do you him a man He is a god. but not in him. They at once showed surprise. A story is told of the wonderful influence he exercised chiefly. whom he met on the road if they knew Ramtanu Babu." the stranger ed." .82 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL all family affairs and in close intercourse with that was best and noblest and around his in the society of the day. Who does not ' know him as to plied ?" they asked. even over those who must have known him if not entirely. is For a moment the men stared at their Then one of them answered. Whatever he does is good." ask- " But how can you " call off him a god. only by repute. of a call When questioned further re- what kind " man he was. that they should be asked such a question. In at Krishnagar he was and beloved. A friend of his was walking in the neighbourhood of his village and curious to find out if the reports of the widespread respect in asked some labourers which he was held locally were true. It evident that you do not belong to this part of the country or you would not have spoken in this way.
Ramtanu acted as guardian of the minors of the Mukherjee family of Khetra Gobardanga. it Goodness was the same whether was the goodness of a Hindu. as elsewhere. he was quick to acknowledge what was good in both. . every almost " wrote one who knew him well. a responsible post for which he was recommended by Government. Every his social movement. his wonderful personality " Ramtanu's influence was felt by " villager won its way. a Christian or a Brahmo. who was a friend of both. met with Often he approved a proposed reform. none recognised quicker than he what care was necessary in putting it into practice. To him it mattered little what a man's outward creed might be. every reform calcu- lated to improve the position of his fellow countrymen. yet realised that the times were not yet ripe for bringing it about. While he was a zealous advocate of it on principle. Such an instance was ready sympathy. and how jealously their women folk must be guarded from contact with society that might be hurtful to them. which was then one of the many topics of the day. iemale emancipation. Everything that was good and noble he set before himself as tTbe end and aim of life. There. of He was the a friend both the orthodox Hindus and members Brahmo Samaj. a Muhammadan." Although Ramtanu had broken with Hinduism and had not joined the Brahmo of the Samaj.RAMTANU LAHIRI 83 For a time during his retirement. The long standing breach between them in the village was healed by him.
For man of his affectionate disposition home ties were so deeply rooted these a trial.. then his daughter Indumati and finally his eldest son Nova Kumar were taken from him. a promising youth. I have now shown unbelief in shedding tears for Indu. but our conduct hardly tallies with what emotion at the loss of his daughter. now of an age to filial fend for himself. We say that God is good. First his son-in-law. came to live in Calcutta in 1879. It was at this stage that his second son Sharat Kumar. in whom the losses were a Yet he bore them with splendid courage heavy and resignation.Si In his TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL later years Ramtanu suffered heavy domestic losses. The long children had been a heavy drain upon and his open handed charity had taken little thought for the future. came with assistance. we I say. Once when he had shown undue he reproached " himself and turning to his friends. devotion to hi& Giving up his studies at the University obtained the employment of Librarian at the he Metropolitan Institution. said. His circumstances were by no means prosperous and beyond his small pension of seventy five rupees a month he had illness of his his resources little upon which to rely. conloss tinuing to reside there with occasional visits to hi& home at Krishnagar for the remainder of his life. Why is remember that she Soon after the should I weep for her when in His good keeping ?" of his Ramtanu son and daughter. a post he continued to hold .
still Ambitious. accepting with resignation the trials that were sent to him. The influence of his father's name and the support of his father's large circle of friends enabled him to meet thus had the great joy of placing his father beyond the need of financial with success from the outset. full of years and Although cular walk of it was not given to Ramtanu Lahiri his infl uence to achieve fame. however. Kali of his as of many felt most devoted Yet keenly as he kill these bereavements. He worries and of very largely contributing to his happi- ness and comfort during the remaining years of his life. of his younger brother Dr. and Charan Lahiri. Ramtanu's last years were still further saddened by the death of his youngest son at the age of fifteen. as the world counts life. as well friends. on his any partiday and generait. He died on the 18th of August. in tion was undoubted. Fame would have been would have desired. they failed to of his nature. he set up on his own 1883 as a booksheller and publisher. of his wife.85 for five years. the faithful and devoted partner of all his joys and sorrows. the hopefulness and buoyancy To the end he maintained his un- wavering faith in the divine wisdom. of contributing further to his father's support than the small so derived income account in would allow. the last thing that he himself Am- bitious only of all that was good and honourable . 1898 honour.
in matters of . its founda- Yet quietly and persistently he did the work that it was given to him to do. for pure felt and conscientious as he was. for his fellowasked everything. his love of truth. uncompromising aversion to all that was unworthy or unjust. left spent much time " in prayer." modesty which prevented him from ever thrusting himself to the front and taking a leading part in the great spirit It was this of true controversies that were shaking society to tions. true. no man could have demanded less of life than Upon all For himself he asked nothing.86 and he. his intense earnestness. he himself so sinful that he could but seldom utter a word or two in the spirit of what he considered true prayer. his sweet- ness and gentleness of disposition helping to heal the wounds of controversy and pleading for a wider sympathy and a broader toleration belief. exercising a very real influence on his day and generation. with in contact men he came his and they were all the whom he leading men of his day." wrote Professor Max Muller of him. His humility was" When he saw others whotouching and profound. and his neverf ailing eagerness to help a deep impression. others. he considered them the most favoured of mortals.
Nawab Amir Ali Khan Bahadur 89 .
Mulla Shah Noor Muhammad who was the first to leave Delhi and . " Next after I Sir Salar Muhammad an have ever known. with numerous grants of land and titles of distinction. life Throughout the course of a long versally he was unigreat respected and esteemed. as but among Europeans and Hindus leading one of the Muhammadans of Amir Ali Khan came the day in Bengal.E. ALI KHAN C. of an old Persian familj'' had long been settled in India. his wielding influence not only among co-religionists alike.I.NAWAB AMIR BAHADUR. He was ninth in descent from Kazi Syed Noah who after filling the office of Kazi at Baghdad left his native which land to seek his fortunes in India. Settling at Delhi he met with much respect at the Imperial Court. It was his grandson." Jung he was the best Such was the high praise bestowed upon Nawab Amir Ali Khan Bahadur by no than Sir less distinguished an administrator Richard Temple. praise which few of those who had the privilege of being acquainted with the subject of it will consider to have been exaggerated. his great learning winning for him an honour- ed place. 18101879.
he expected greater things and he gave him the best education possible. Persian. of ed his studies Muhaminadan conservatism and of the prejudices of the time that he was not taught English. and it is an astonishing fact that. Khan in later Until the age of nineteen he prosecut- at home. being content to remain at home and manage however. He Mea and of the married the daughter of Kazi Syed Muhammad. Muhammad Rafi being the at r to make home Barh in the Patna district. Hi& son Waris Ali took little part in politics. It is typical. and Urdu. He was much it in favour with Ali Verdi Khan and was through his title of recommendation that he received the Shaikul Mashaikh from the Imperial Court at Delhi. Ali Amir ties showed signs of the qualiwhich were to win him so prominent a place life. greatly distinguished himself in the service Naib Nazim of Bengal. sending him as far afield as Moradabad and Bareilly where he was present at several actions during Lord Lake's campaign against the Mahrattas. 1810. wander further his great first grandson his He finally settled in Behar again. his zemindari.90 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL east. becoming proficient in. however. He returned to Barh on his father's death and there his son the future 1st of Nawab Bahadur was born on early the March. in spite of his own broad and liberal views and of the place he eventually won for himself in the regard of all the European officials with . For his own son. Arabic.
King of Oudh. first appointment was that of pleader in the Civil Court at Patna in 1832. he was never His death able to converse in the English language. He remained at Oudh until the King's death in 1838. were but the prelimin- ary training for the important work that him. leaving later to practice in the old Sudder Dewani Adalat. In 1854 he became it government a few years pleader in the same court. where behalf of government in it was his duty to plead OIL all cases ojL claims to re- sumption of lands held rent free on defection of want of title. So far his career. then appointed a Deputy Assistant Superinbeing tendent in the Presidency Special Commissioner'sthe Court of Court at Calcutta. though of no special distinction had been marked by conspicuous ability.NAWAB AMIR whom his ALI till 91 the day of he came in contact. Here amid theintrigues and petty jealousies of an Indian court he first showed that tact and discretion which was later to enable him to occupy so responsible and difficult position with dignity and credit. still awaited Loyalty had always been the watch-word of the Barh family and it ever remained one of the most conspicuous traits in the character of Amir Ali Khan. high legal attainments and genial and tactful manners. Two years later he went of the down to Calcutta where he was appointed one assistants to the Envoy despatched to the Court of Nazimddin Haider. These first appointments however. .
Samuells of criticism. Farquharson. in October. he came boldly forward to put his loyal protestations into spirited Throwing the whole weight of the great influence that he possessed. was regarded with the as the centre of disaffection. when many another and courageous action. evil times displayed nothing but loyalty and good will to the British The appointment of Arnir Ali. and Patna. The better classes of natives in the city have throughout these. popular and measure. politic. where the largest body of Indian troops outside Calcutta was stationed. Amir All who was intimately acquainted with local conditions was chosen to be his special assistant of the Patna Division. a Government. on the side of law he was untiring in doing his utmost to ally the unfortunate suspicions that had been aroused and to bring about an understanding between all order. came it in for a considerable amount but was ably defended by the acting Commissioner. and when Mr. not only among his co-religionists but among all creeds and classes. . and a Deputy Magistrate in all the districts His appointment like that of Mr. I may perhaps be allowed to state " that Amir Ali's appointment was. native of the province and known to each and all. a healthy. Mr. 1857. parties. " " he wrote. Samuells to was appointed Commissioner deal Mutiny. in the opinion of those best able to judge and appreciate the tone of Patna native useful society.92 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL of In the dark year 1857. held back.
The fear was at once allayed by Amir Ali's advent and not only has the real Government been made apparent to the native mind but its vast power and resources." The appointment of Directors in a was further approved by the Court Despatch expressed of that August 1858. was precisely what was required to allay fears strength general ties which were daily gaining ground and fears that the Government was bent on and indiscriminate vengeance for the attrocicommitted in other parts of India. justice of the not half understood or believed by the people were made real and credible to all.NAWAB AMIR either ALI or 93 successful as personal legal adviser pleader in the highest court of judicature. wherein the opinion was " the Lieutenant Governor had sufficient shown good and reason for it and the is excellent service rendered by Munshi Amir Ali the best justification of the him for the important office government in selecting which he held in Patna. He was also an Honorary Magistrate at Alipore and a Justice of . Ali was created a Khan Bahadur in 1864 and Amir in the following year he of the was appointed a member Bengal Legislative Council. There is no calculating what might have been the danger or mischief of a spread of the belief among a credulous and timid population." In recognition of the services he had rendered. to assist the Commissioner in his early communications with those classes.
His object in founding it was to unite Muhammadans so that they might work together for the common good. Among was many activities that which was destined to of all assume perhaps the greatest importance the inauguration oi the National Muhammadan all classes of Association of Calcutta for which he was responsible. spared no effort to improve their condition and to bring home to them a sense of He their responsibilities and of the necessity of bestirring conditions. while the which he belonged kept him his fully occupied. little ~to themselves to keep abreast of modern Like Nawab Abdul Latif and a select of company Muhammadan leaders. and with the object of bringing them home to the people he wrote in Persian a work the known as the Amir Nawab on the history of .94 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL many societies to the Peace of Calcutta. As President of the Association that he had founded Amir Ali did invaluable work on behalf of his co-religionists. He was never tired of expounding the advantages of British rule in India. he was quick see that the old conservative feeling of exclusiveness in social relations and education could only be perprosperity sisted in at the expense of the general and well being of the Muhammadan community. He recognised that cohesion meant strength and that one of the main reasons for the backwardness into which the Muhammadan community had fallen was its lack of organisation and of any representative body to take action in its behalf.
Resenting the position in which he had been placed. inclined to was himself by no means welcome with open arms the official appointed by the British government to regulate Ms private affairs. particularly with Europeans. which met with considerable success. adopting towards the government a tone of marked hostility and distrust. recognising the work use done by Amir showed services. The choice of government fell He had proved his finally upon Amir Ali Khan. Government good was not slow in.NAWAB AMIR British ALI 95 administration in India. and when an to opportunity occurred of his itself anxious it make Wajid In 1867 became necessary to appoint a manager for the affairs of Ali Shah. capability and above all his unfailing tact as assistant to the Commissioner of Patna in the difficult days of 1857. the ex-king of It Oudh. who was then difficult post. of favourites Wajid Ali Shah. while his genial manners and sympathetic disposition had already won him a host of friends in As manager of the affairs of the ex-king 'Calcutta. however. residing in Calcutta. was a most one that few would envy and few were adequately fitted to occupy. By his constant tact and unwearied patience Amir . the ex-king endeavoured to withdraw himself altogether from social intercourse. he had the most difficult task of liis lifetime. Ali. surrounded by a crowd and satellites who bitterly resented the intervention of a stranger. of Oudh.
it him by Lord Northbrook at a being conferred upon Durbar held on the later 17th of September that year. he fulfilled his difficult task that Government after- wards entrusted him with another of a somewhat similar nature. In the last few years of his fresh honours came In 1875 he was given the title of Nawab to him. About the same time the Sultan of Turkey bestowed upon him the Companionship of the Turkish Order of the Osmanieh in recognition of his services to the Muhammadan com- munity. a silver meclal from the Viceroy.96 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL in Ali succeeded improving the relations between him and the ing a certain British Government as well as of order in bring- amount of management and honesty into the the ex-king's affairs. Lord Lytton. 1879 and the following letters. as a personal distinction. being created a Companion of the newly created order of the Indian Empire. Shortly before his death he received yet another distinction from the British government. For eight and it says much for years he remained in charge his successful administration that at the end of that of period he retired with the good will and regret So ably had both the Government and the ex-king. on the 16th of November. to settle the debts of the last Naib Nazim of Bengal. Two years was invited to attend the Imperial Assembly receiving there he at Delhi.. one from the Private Ali died Nawab Amir .
7 . SIMLA 28th Nov. % P. Dear Sir. Yours faithfully.MY DEAR I SIR. E. T. 1879. A. the Viceroy has received with deep regret the news contained in the letter of the 20th of the death of your father 5the late Nawab Amir Ali. H. received with very deep regret your letter announcing the death of my good old friend Nawab Amir Ali. Personally I shall miss in all matters very much his loyal and hearty co-operation effecting the welfare of the Muhammadan population. you the his deep sympathy in the H. .NAWAB AMIR ALI 97 the Viceroy and the 'Secretary to His Excellency other from the Lieutenant-Governor himself suffici-ently testify to the esteem in which he was held* VICEROY'S CAMP. EDEN. COL. I remain. Yours faithfully. to the Viceroy.government. I am. I heard from him not long ago and was not at all aware or I should have written to enquire after him. DEAR SIR. V^G. great loss to in of his Hlness He will be a loses Muhammadan society and Government him an old and valuable servant. 1879. desires me to express to loss which not only you but His Excellency Muhammadan community of Calcutta and by the death of so highly and deservedly esteemed a gentleman and so loyal a servant of the British himself have suffered . DELHI 24th Nov. COLLEY. S. E.
home among and Europeans and Indians alike.' ' . scholar A learned Persian and fluent all Urdu classes. speaker. while the immense services he was able to render to the Muhammadan community were inestireliable adviser and mable. the figure of Khan stood out as a shining example to Amir Ali his co-religionists.98 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL At a time when Muhammadans of distinction were Nawab unfortunately only too few. and as a loyal were gratefully acknowledged. as manager of the ex-king of Oude's affairs. he officials was equally at non-officials. He was to one of that little band of men to whom it was given by strenuous raise effort and unwearying vigilance the Muhammadan community from the slough of despond into which it had fallen. To quote again the words of Sir Richard he was one of the old school. The services he ren- dered to government in the dark days of mutiny. All who came in contact with him felt the charm of his personality. and afforded Temple a complete example of its virtues and merits.
Maharajadhiraj Mahtab Chand Rai Bahadur of Burdwan .
Of a re- and quiet and dignified in manner. The latter's sister Lala Paran Chand married the Maharaja Tej and on the death of their only son.MAHARAJADHIRAJ MAHTAB GRAND RAI BAHADUR OF BURDWAN. he won further distinctions by his own loyalty. the Maharaja Kamal Kumari had Chand Rai of Burdwan . of the great figures of the nineteenth century. tiring disposition. He waa content to exercise wisely and with restraint the great influence that his position gave him. never forgetful of the heavy^responsibilities that that position entailed. among the nobles of Bengal. he never thrust himself into the political arena. Not only did he succeed in obtaining confirmation of all the distinctions conferred his predecessors by the Moghul government. 18201879 \ Mahtab Ohand Rai. but by the judicious management of his vast estates he enormously increased their value. energy and ability. . Maharajadhiraj was one Inheriting a high position of Burdwan. Mahtab Chand was the fourth son Kapur. Born on the 17th of November of 1820. handing on a upon yet more splendid inheritance to his successor even than that which he had himself received.
The Kapur family was one of considerable antiquity and great distinction. eighth from Abu Rai was in the first to obtain the of Raja.000 cavalry and 30. who middle * Bengal in the ' appointed Choudhuri and Kotowal of Rekabi Bazaar under the century.000 infantry with various other military distinctions. by caste a settled in Kapur Kshatriya. generation after generation plaVing its up the immense property which Mahtab Rai was finally to complete and consolidate part in building in the nineteenth century. of the 17th being Fauzdar of Chakla Burdwan. in descent title Chitra Sen Rai. This son. To the estate that he founded his descendants gradually added further possessions. Emperor Mahomed Shah His successor Tilak Chand attained the higher rank of Maharajadhiraj Bahadur. For sixty-one life years he lived to enjoy these honours. his long extending from the momentous period of British rule in Bengal of the dawn down to the comparatively peaceful days of its firm establishment in the fourth .adopted TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL his nephew Mahtab Chand as his heir.102 . The founder of the Burdwan branch was Abu Rai of Kotli in Lahore. a distinction he received from the 1740. a title which each successive head Burdwan family has since held. Tez Chand succeeded at the age of six in 1771 and obtained from the Emperor Shah Alum a sanad dated the same year confirming him in the rank of of the Maharajadhiraj Bahadur and appointing him commander of 5.
he made no Content with his position as one of the greatest landholders in Bengal and as the representative of one of its most important ity or political eminence. he set himself from the it first to. the possessor of a vast estate and great wealth. Naturally of a quite bid for popular- retiring disposition. Mahtab Chand succeeded his adopted father on the 16th of August 1823 and a year later. when only thirteen years of age. Among the many changes that he saw pass over the face of Bengal by important to him as a great landholder was the Permanent Settlement. he received a farman from the Governor-General. Loyalty. was one . he concentrated all his energies on improv ing the condition of his tenants and estate. whole hearted and unswerving. Brought thus into prominence at a very early age. and worthily maintaining the honourable traditions of his house. Mahtab Rai fully realised alike the possibilities and the responsibilities of his high position. families. Although a young man exposed to all the temptations to which his great wealth and independence rendered him and particularly liable. which least no means the became law as Regulation I of 1793.MAHTAB GRAND 103 decade of the nineteenth century. erecting his splendid palaces and laying out his gardens at Burdwan. administer wisely and well. confirming him in the title of Maharajadhiraj Bahadur. and the holder of one of the highest titles in Bengal. Lord William Bentick.
again undertaking . roads. estates the vast resources of his great were freely placed at the disposal of the His workmen rapidly opened up new authorities. he gave to his firm allegiance. Services of a similar nature the Maharaja rendered again a few yearsheld their later during the Sepoy Mutiny. and the remarkable prosperity they had attained in his own day under the peaceful reign of British law and order formed a striking contrast.104 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL Mahtab Recognising on every side the benefits that- of the strongest traits in the character of Chand. The Santal Rebellion opportunity of of his 1855 afforded in him an a practical loyalty showing way which he showed himself eager to adopt. and his elephants and bullock carts speedily transported troops and baggage through the wild country in which the turbulent Santals had hitherto own unchallenged. His own estates from their geographical position had been especially liable to plunder and devastation during the unsettled years of the eighteenth century. His estates lay between Calcutta and the scene of thedisturbances and the railway running in those days no further than Ranigunj. the Maharaja was able to give Government valuable assistance in the matter of transport and in improving the means of comAll munication. British rule had conferred on it his distracted country. Twice the Maharaja had the satisfaction of materially assisting Government in maintaining that same law and order.
In 1868 the further distinction was conferred upon him of a grant of armorial bearings with supporters.MAHTAB CHAND 105 transport duties on an extensive scale and setting an example of loyalty to the other Zemindars of Bengal. and his practical experience as a great landowner and his intimate knowledge of the conditions of life generally in of great service. He was one of the first Indians to attain to the dignity of a seat in the Council. On almost every question he held decided views but he considered that it was more incumbent upon him to exercise his influence quietly through legitimate channels as the adviser . and nine years later at the Imperial assemblage at Delhi. The first recognition on the part of governservices ment his for these and other came in 1864 in of appointment as an additional member of the Legislative* Council o the Governor-General. and they were listened to with attention and respect as thesimplicity words of a man whose impartiality and honesty were unimpeachable and whose opportunities of acquiring information were unrivalled. Apart from his position on the Legislative Council. Maharaja Mahtab Chand refrained on principle from taking any active part in the great political movements of the day. Bengal proved no attempt at oratorical display but his speeches were invariably characterised He made by and strong common sense. he was granted as a personal distinction the right to a salute of thirteen guns.
Bengali. related In all matters that to the spread of education the Maharaja was keenly interested. Popularity full he altogether disregarded. Having the courage of disapproval of others. He was parti- cularly desirous that the Mahabharat. all asked by the authorities and carried of his the weight great name and position. he did much to enand scholarships. At Burdwan he established an Anglo -Vernacular School which he threw open to boys of all creeds and classes. his convictions. For over thirty years their labours continued. disposition courage literature and well educated. Sanskrit and Persian for poor and deserving students. which have done so much . This Institution which has since been raised to the status of a college provides a free education in English. With this object he engaged the services of some of the most famous Pandits of the day. the Ramayana. which alone could popularise them in modern Bengal. and the other religious books of his faith should be more widely disseminated and made all. accessible to not only in cheap Sanskrit editions but in Bengali translations. and a separate department for Himself of a studious girls has since been added. once justice of the course he cared nothing for the approval or he was convinced of the he had advocated. resulting in the republication of the original Sanskrit books with Bengali translations.106 of TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL Government rather than openly to take part in His opinion was constantly political controversies.
Among his other varied interests. To his tenants and numerous dependents he was especially open-handed and in all cases of epidemics and famine he was ever ready to help. to the utmost of his power. The religious endowments made by his ancestors at Kalna and elsewhere he maintained in their entirety. the Bengal Government among .000. In the cause of medical and charitable the Maharaja was no less generous. He was also one of the earliest and most liberal supporters tained of the Zoological gardens at Calcutta. He cases established charitable dispensaries at Burdwan and Kalna and all gave temporary aid freely in of need throught his estates.MAHTAB CHAND to 107 of make them better known among the people relief Bengal. wealth at To the Madras Famine Fund he made the magnificent donation of Us. which are to-day so great a feature of the Capital. severe famines in Orissa and Behar he rendered Government invaluable of his great aid. which is still main- by the present head of the family. He was quick to see the great future that lay before had been drawn to head-quarters for it once popular attention and once the idea of a summer it. 1.50. placing all the resources its disposal. the Maharaja spent much time and money in establishing a Zoological garden at Burdwan. Again in the development of Darjeeling as a hill station he played a leading part. In the.
He purchas- ed large tracts of land in the vicinity of Darjeeling and Kurseong and greatly assisted in the develop- ment ment of those stations. and like the palace intself remain to-day as evidence of his excellent taste. who afterwards still further distinguished themselves. some of the ablest men in Bengal. In the management of of his affairs responsible advisers he was assisted by a Council appointed by him on the each lines of the viceroy's executive councils. for The establishment of Govern- a certain period of the year in Darjeeling soon led to a great influx of visitors official and non-official and the Maharaja's wise foresight in purchasing land before the rush began proved a splendid investment. practically owing their origin to him. member being placed in charge of a special department of the estate. details of the management of his property and throughit out his long career he administered well. The Maharaja proved himself an excellent judge of character and the members of the Council were selected with great care. doing good services upon He himself took a personal interest in the smallest it. wisely and Maharaja Mahtab Chand died on the 26th . On all the beautification of lavished his- own house in Burdwan he much care and the chief buildings there thought. The beautiful Dilkhusha gardens were designed and laid out under his personal supervision.108 the hills TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL had been definitely adopted.
Straightforward and honest. yet with a true sense of his own dignity and of the he worthily upheld the great traditions of his house and has left behind responsibilities of his position. him a name that takes high place in the roll call of the nobles of Bengal in the nineteenth century. For forty seven years he had been one of the most prominent figures in Bengal and though he had never courted publicity and had been fearless in the expression on several occasions of when his anti-popular opinions. he had won universal respect among all classes. he officials was trusted and consulted by rich and poor. with a detestation of hypocrisy and falsehood. advice had been asked. by and non-officials alike.MAHTAB CHAND 109 October 1879 at Bhagalpur. Quiet and retiring. .
t^K. Nawab Abdul Latif Khan Bahadur .
not only among the- Indian community but also in European society. Occupied as he was with the heavy routine a government official work of he yet found time to throw himself heart and soul into every movement that promised the advancement of the Muhammadan community or the amelioration of the lot of his poorer . A large tolerance and a very earnest desire that Hindus and Muhamrnadans might draw more closely together won him well-nigh universal sympathy and esteem. Although for over thirty official five years he occupied no higher permanent post than that of Deputy Magistrate.NAWAB ABDUL LATIF KHAN BAHADUR.. his great ability and keen advocacy of the causes he had at heart won for him an unique position. and in the great awakening them to a sense of their responhe played a leading part. He was one of the first to recognise how great was the mistake holding that his co-religionists were the making in themselves aloof from wide-spread educational task of sibilities movement of the day. 18281893 t C.LE. Nawab Abdul Latif Klian will always have an honoured place in Muhammadan annals in The name of the nineteenth century.
of the founder of the Presidency College. a Council. member of the Bengal a Legislative an Honorary Magistrate. those two great fore- runners of progress and civilisation. In 1828 the East India Company . small conception gives but a the wide sympathies of spread Nawab Abdul Latif His long life covered the greater part of the nineteenth century.and India for six years tions. Abdul Latif came of a family of distinction which . it is. a Justice Peace. the railway and the telegraph. he was also at Pro- the Calcutta University. as Besides Ms work vincial -of Deputy Magistrate in the Bengal various times a fellow Service. of the Calcutta Literary Society.the regular Committee appointcensus in Calcutta and Founder list.his the abolition of Sati. morally and veconoinically which that century had brought to India and to Bengal in particular. In his youth. He lived to see them completely change the conditions of life in one of the most con- servative and slow-moving countries in the world. Yet this long as of the energy and . a member of the Special first ed to conduct the . Born in 1828.and TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL more unfortunate fellow-countrymen. was yet to come. it was given to him to see the great advance socially. administration. still still held its Charter more was a land of restric- the reins of Lord William Bentick had but recently assumed office and the most famous act of . were unknown even in the west.112 .
their l But as often happened to Muhammadan past days. Choosing a quiet and secure retreat. their increase inevitably meant decay. the property of the original founder 8 . families in . The rivers were the great Eastern Bengal and they were infested with dacoits who rendered unsafe for habitation the country far inland on either of main highways bank. who acquired more lands and added still further to the of the family. one of the of first soldiers the Crescent. Shah Azimuddin settled of his learning there under the special protection of the Emperor. set out for India.NAWAB ABDUL LATIF had been Tracing great 113 settled for generations in Eastern Bengal. inspired by that spirit of adventure which led so many of his Making his countrymen eastwards. afield.' numbered men its of learning. Abdur Easul made for himself a home which is still in the possession of his descendants to-day. Those were troublous days and law and order were yet things of the future on the outskirts of the Empire. way to Delhi. much fame on account and His son Abdur Rasul travelled yet further obtaining the appointment of a Judgeship in Eastern Bengal and finally making his home at Eajapur in the Faridpur district. its descent from Khaled. The descendants itself 'Sword God' lived in Mecca until one them. He was dignity succeeded in his judgeship by his son. acquiring piety. known from ' his prowess in religious warfare as the it Sword oi God. piety and enterprise of the of among of members.
1836 and met with considerable later Eight years Kaji of life Fakir Muhamed died at his old in another home at Rajapur. With his two brothers he was educated at the Calcutta Madrassa and early showed signs of the distinction he was destined to gain in lateryears. in descent from old home There he joined the bar of the old Suddar Dewani Adaulut. set out from his his fortune in Calcutta. His second son was the future Nawab. the subject of this memoir. various cadets of the were forced to look beyond the local limits of family their Abdur Rasul own home for the means of livelihood. of This occurring among the descendants at Rajapur. sixth Shah Azimuddin. from which success and wider sphere had never weaned his affections. The Madrassa owed its origin to that wisest of . The freedom and his independence enjoyed by a Pleader at the Sudder Court appealed to Fakir the legal profession. It his researches in was published success.114 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL being divided and subdivided among his descendantsuntil the share of each became insufficient for his- maintenance. in those days almost the only career open to a the service of man of ambition outside the Company. Among to seek them Kaji Fakir Muhamed. for Muhamed and own personal interests travelled far beyond the limits of of history exercised The study him an absorbing fascination and the result of was a Universal History written by him in Persian and entitled Jami-ul-Tawarik.
the great stronghold of of progress conservatism and tradition as opposed to the spirit and reform. Warren Hastings. It is extraordinary in the upon the rigid attitude adopted by the Muhammadan community in general and their long refusal to advance with the modern days to look back . turned a deaf ear to the rising tide of modernism. had thus become the very centre of Persian and Arabic study in the midst of the new Bengal that was gradually rising into existence. becoming as time went on. But conditions were rapidly changing and with the strengthening of the British dominion in India came the necessity for widening and modernising the course the English language one of It of study its and making that principal features. they failed to realise what others were quick to grasp that conditions had changed irrevocably and that a knowledge of English had be- come a light of virtual necessity. for the training of who had Company's law as it men for the and for the administration It of the then stood. unaccustomed to competition and not understanding that the pre-eminence they had always held in legal and classical studies could ever be seriously threatened. was thus while first still at the Madrassa Abdul Latif was brought face to face with the problem which was to form the chief work of his life. Intensely conservative by nature. The Muhamniadan community.NAWAB ABDUL planned service it LATIF 115 Indian administrators. clinging to the old traditional forms of study.
Abdul Latii set him- from this time onwards to combat the prejudices that prevented them from moving with the times and adapting themselves to altered conditions. the students refusing to be drawn from their Persian and Arabic studies and from the study of the Law which was In vain it fast ceasing to be the law of the land. . They threw themselves heartily into the study of English and the modem side. eager to equip who had themselves to meet the requirements of the day. untrameUed by the same prejudices and quick to move with the times. Distressed at the position into which the Muhammadan community was rapidly self tailing. and that the importance of Persian and Arabic and the study of Muhammadan Law was not what it had been. was pointed out to them that under the new regime a knowledge of English was essential.116 times. of English But so great was the opposition that the English practically classes were boycotted. was thus that the Hindu community. as It was only little such Muhammadans Abdul Latif and a company of his fellow students a truer insight into the future. With a persistence that seems remarkable seventy years later that were offered to they steadily refused to take the opportunities them by a Government anxious It only for their welfare. It TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL was while Abdul Latif was at the Madrassa in the early after forties that the first much controversy was study introduced there. seized the advantage which it has ever since held.
. his charm of manner and his complete mastery of English soon won for himself an assured place in the best society of the day. The few students who were prompt to take advantage of the English classes were consequently marked out for encouragement and distinction. there were far fewer posts open to Indian students than there are to-day.S. and Abdul Latif. I. The introduction of the study of English into the Madrassa course had been watched with great interest by Government. he was back again in Calcutta as 1 v an Anglo-Arabic Professor at the Calcutta Madrassa.NAWAB ABDUL Abdul Latif's LATIF 117 early proficiency in English dis- tinguishing him among his co-religionists. A he was officiating as a master at the Dacca Collegiate School. at once brought him into contact with many of the highest government officials of the day. by his modesty. Samuells. After leaving the Madrassa his first employment was as Private Secretary to the Arnir was residing on a political pension at of Sind Dum who Dum. His name. After another temporary year later billet with a Commission of Enquiry under Mr. had now been sent up and ^approved for the Subordinate Executive Service . In those days. however. who had won a Government scholarship. however. which had used every means in the necessity of it its power to bring plainly before the eyes of the Muhammadan community. and some time elapsed before he gained a permanent appointment under Government.C.
he received promotion in the ordinary course of service and was chosen as the first subdivisional officer of the newly formed subdivision of Kalaroa. For a year he remained there. In 1849 at the age of twenty-one he was appointed a Deputy Magistrate by Sir Herbert Haddock. grade of of the 24-Parganas. he remained in For over twenty-five years the subordinate Executive Service one of the most striking features of Abdul Latif's career that though he held so comparatively and it is humble an official position he exercised such wide- spread influence and was so universally acknowledged as one of the foremost leaders of Muhammadan society not only in Bengal but throughout India. learning the work of a Deputy Magistrate. he was posted to the head-quarter station Governor of Bengal. and at the end of that period he was invested with first class powers and was also made a Justice of the Peace. taking a keen interest in the unfortunate planters differences which had arisen between and ryots in the indigo districts and which eventually led to the appointment of the famous Indigo Commission by the Lieutenant-Governor. For three years Abdul Latif remained at Alipore. . 200 a month. then a part of the 24-Parganas District. Deputy Beginning in the then lowest Deputy Magistrates on the pay of Us.118 and lie had not long to wait for an appointment. It speaks much for the individuality and force of character of the man himself. In 1853.
Not only. Even few years of service Abdul Latif gained a reputation for energy and ability and above all for that broadmindedness and tact which so distinguished him in later life. chose Abdul Latif.NAWAB ABDUL LATIF Sir 119 in these first John Peter Grant in 1860. determined to justify his The lawlessness of which a district so near fully Calcutta was capable sixty years ago reads surprisingly to-day. realising this. Abdul Latif went to take up his new appointment choice. division of side of Jehanabad had long been a thorn in the the Bengal Government. It is constantly ' referred to as a litigious and turbulent place of ' and a called particularly bad outbreak it lawlessness 1854. The life of the subdivisional officer " it . Rioting. and. he was subjected to annoyance and obstruction on the part of those who should have been his chief " >y X supporters. It was for this reason that after a year at Kalaroa he was chosen for a post where The subability and tact were especially needful. however. It was a compliment to the young officer. special attention to in the year Govern- ment. highway robberies and dacoities were of the commonest occurrence and life diate circle of and property were nowhere safe outside the immeJehanabad itself. was he burdened with this heavy task. This state of affairs the young subdivisional officer set himself with energy and determination to redress. anxious to select a difficult man well qualified for the post of subdivisional officer.
by their the of higher authority.' loss is to Returning to Alipore in June 1857 Abdul Latif was able to resume his public and social activities which he had been forced very largely to abandon during his absence from Calcutta at Jehanabad. saying that he had 'discharged difficult very satisfactorily the duties of a most subdivision such as Jehanabad." The task that thus fell to the lot of Abdul Latif during the five years that he remained at Jehanabad was a heavy one and needed all the tact How it successfully he carried command. The subdivision as he was a very it. necessity constantly answering changes and explaining his conduct. wrote officially to thank him for his services. different place from the subdivision as he found When the time came for him to relin- quish his post on transfer elsewhere Lord Ulick Browne. welcomed everywhere as a capable and energetic ally. and complaints to imposed on him. out that task was at his left acknowledged on all sides. all in league with the ministerial staff who continually kept him in hot water with them. He was soon again busily engaged m promoting every scheme for the advancement of the Muhamma- dan community. the Magistrate of Hooghly.120 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL of Abdul Latif s predecessor was made miserable by the cheeky and fearless country attorneys and landlord's agents and other habitual liti- was written " gants. where his be deeply regretted. In 1860 he was made a member .
as Retiring in due course from his office of the Bengal Legislative Council r member on the expiry of his two year's term. and it says much for his energy and enthusiasm that after a hard day's work atmosphere of a police court he was ready and willing to throw himself heart and soul into other duties. he w as especially thanked for his services Lieutenant-Governor. a new court created to meet the needs of the growing city and the increasing importance of its southern suburbs. theii- years more he continued to work as a Deputy Magistrate at Alipore. scarcely less onerous. an office he retained until his retirement. which had aroused such unexpected opposition. Sir John Peter Grant on the creation selected of the Bengal Legislative Council him as one of its original the first great Muhammadan to be appointed. by For four Sir Cecil Beadon. . no special distincAbout the same time also he was appointed position of to the Board of Commissioners created to deal with the difficulties experienced over the introduction of the income tax.NAWAB ABDUL of the LATIF 121 Board of Examination for the civil and military services. on behalf of in the close. which entailed heavy work. In the following year. although he had not yet completed twelve years service. For ten years he performed the duties of this office. honour for a man so young in the official members and as This was a service and one holding an tion. being chosen in 1867 as the first Magistrate to preside over the new Suburban Police Court.
in his official place work that his chief claim to a among the most distinguished lies. marked by no great opportunities but its fulfilling to the utmost possibilities. Such in brief outline It is is the official record of Abdul Latif's career. dated the 30th December the 1872. in There he remained for over seven years finally retiring December 1887 on a special pension sanctioned by Government. and for the third time by Sir George Campbell who offered him of the appointment in a letter. in which he wrote "I do not think Muhammadan community could be better repre- sented in the Legislative Council than by yourself. men of Bengal in the nineteenth century It is for his social and philanthropic work that revered by the his memory will ever be Muhammadan community for whose advancement he in the present so earnestly strove. It is not. In 1870 he was again appointed a member of the Bengal Legislative Council by Sir William Grey." For a few months in 1879 he acted as Stipendiary Presidency Magistrate. however. community The pioneer of the . so It is difficult many Muhammadans are to the fore in every walk of life to realise how unique was the position occupied by Abdul Latif and how day when large was the part he played it in raising the to the place holds to-day.122 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL the cause which he had so nearly at heart. afterwards being appointed to preside over the Suburban Police Court at Sealdah. a record of quiet and consistent good service.
which the latter half of the nineteenth century saw among his co-religionists. literally following The Muham- madans were the dictum of the Koran Kaliph Omar that 'whatever books differ from the are pernicious and those which agree with it are superfluous. There was no branch of social life in which he did not take part. Early in his career he began in a small way to do what he could to combat that spirit of .' of being To Abdul first Latif belongs the credit among the to see that however well this non-progressive policy may have sufficed in the it it days when the sword was mightier than the pen. and many interest or his presence at their meetings. In his earlier days. On many occasions he was the only Muhammadan at public ceremonies and social gatherings. meant ruin to the community that persisted in under modern conditions of universal progress and advance. he was eager to go everywhere and to know everyone. regarded from the modern stand was practically non-existent. The services of Abdul Latif to the cause of Muhammadan point. and all classses of people appealing to him help. he often stood well nigh alone. it education it is difficult to exaggerate. Realising that the old days of race exclusiveness were over. for advice His correspondence societies claiming his was enormous.NAWAB ABDUL LATIF great forward 123 movement. and there was no scheme his co-religionists for the benefit not only of but of the community generally that had not his hearty support.
coming from all parts of India. was found to The time allowed for have been sent in.124 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL and indifference apathy which seemed to have fallen like a pall upon his co-religionists. and the principles of Muham* To encourage thought and enquiry on the part of the students of the Calcutta Madrassa he offered a prize for the best essay in Persian on the question 'How far would the inculcation the of European sciences through medium of the English language benefit Muhammadan students in the present circumstances of India and what are the most practicable means of imparting such instruction ?' The object of the prize which was advertised throughout India under the sanction of the Council of Education and published in the Calcutta Gazette was to draw the attention of the Muhammadan community to the its question which was of such importance to acceptance of to future welfare. history of civilisation madan law. Most of the essays. sending in essays was five months and at the end of that time a very large number. the rise and progress of navigation and commerce. one reads . the discovery of America. the topics. he endeavoured to awaken in them an interest in modern Papers were read on such subjects as the use of history. Holding a series of conversaziones at his private house. Upon its the frank modern conditions and adaptability modern requirements depended its position in the new India that was rapidly coming into existence.
of the prize as a to A committee four was appointed with the approval of the Council of Education to examine the essays. by The regular . ness. consenting to be its President. the first Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal. Parsi Benevolent Institution in 1 in Bombay. For the time under auspices representative Muham- madans were brought together on common ground and given an opportunity of openly expressing their opinions In spite and aspirations of its size and in sympathetic hearing. Sir Frederick Halliday. quoting in support of their arguments the Koran and some even dehimself of nouncing traitor the his giver faith. and one calculated to be of immense benefit to the Muhammadan community. importance the hitherto been without political Muhammadan community had Sk voice and had been in no position to be consulted or to give advice to Government. which he had held residence. finally The best essay was adjudged to be that of Syed Abdul Futteh. Its object like that of the informal gatherings. The founding of the Muhammadan Literary Society April 1863 was another result of Abdul Latif's energy and enthusiasm. strongly deprecated the adopEnglish education. Arabic and Persian teacher at the.NAWAB ABDUL LATIF tion of 125 with astonishment. for many years at his private was to break down prejudice and exclusiveand to interest its members in present day and modern thought and its politics first learning.
126 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL of the meeting together most educated members of the community was at once productive of good results. to look of their own be found embodied in the English language while by your active and reasonable representations on . was the first social gathering of its kind at that time and its effect in bringing all classes of Muhammadans Hall the together as widespread. not only of Bengal. instituted by the Founder of the Society. but beyond the narrow bounds and to explore those accumulatsystem. many occasions you have led them to form a just conception of the policy and intentions of the government. ed treasures of thought and feeling which are to of India generally. giving them greater unity and interest in public affairs and adding a new direction to Muham- madan thought and feeling. In this way you have naturally promoted a good understanding between this class of the community and their rulers and fellow-subjects . and to express their opinion freely. fully led the Muhammadans. The annual conversa- zione. spoke in terms of Abdul Latif's work in connection "By founding the Muhammadan he said turning to Abdul Latif Literary Society" at the conclusion of his speech "you have successwith the Society. On the occasion of the second annual conversazione at the Lieutenant-Governor. and so is far as the present altered state of feeling active owing to your. to the judicious exercise . Town warm Sir Cecil Beadon. and liberal exertions.
the Viceroy." In 1856 he had taken a leading part in promoting the Anglo-Persian establishment of the Calcutta Madrassa and later. Governor-General. belong to the Muhammadan religion. in this most good The token took the form of a comhis services plete set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica inscribed in the Viceroy's own hand in 'Presented to Moulvi Abdul Latif in recognition of his services promoting native education. he eagely assisted in founding the Presidency College. JOHN LAWRENCE.. especially the education of those who. consider you entitled to the gratitude of your countrymen and the cordial acknowledgment of this Government" Sir John Lawrence. Abdul Latif laid stress upon the fact that "before the Presidency College was created. 1867. the Hindu community had its own college for High English education : the Christian.. in addressing him on the same occasion said that it afforded him much pleasure to bestow upon him a suitable token of his approbation of excellent cause. finding this inadequate.NAWAB ABDUL of I LATIF 12T your influence. 25th March. Speaking on the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone of the college by Lord Northbrook on the 23rd of February 1873.' CALCUTTA. . like himself. and to the force of your example.
Muhammadans. his co-religionists were not deriving the advantages which were their due in -comparison with the Hindus it who were benefiting from Government." supplying that want Government had founded the Presidency College. No sooner had the intention of Government to hold such a show been announced than and ^vague absurd rumours became generally current among the I . The first Agricultural Show organised in India was held at Alipore in the cold weather of 1863. it is utility astonishing to read of the excitement which the first one aroused. from a Fund founded by a Muhammadan primarily for Muhammadons. of community was to call public attention to the administration of the Mohsin Fund. setting aside a large sum to assist students throughout Bengal poor by paying two-thirds of their school fees. introduced changes into the administration of the Fund for the benefit of to a far greater extent. which should give the advantages an English education to all creeds and classes Another service that he rendered to the alike. thus conferring an immense boon upon a poor Muhammadan community. In these days when such shows are of frequent and common occurrence all over India and their is generally recognised. He pointed out that.128 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL of community Calcutta had : also its colleges but the Muhammadan for high English education With the object of community had none. recognizing the justice of the claim.
took immediate in steps. About into the . which was translated into the vernacular at his and widely circulated own expense. which was approved by the authorities. Widely circulated. helped largely towards inducing a saner view of government's object in the same time a Bill 'was introduced 9 and more practical enforcing it. read before the Muhammadan Literary Society.NAWAB ABDUL LATIF To 129 allay these ignorant masses of the population. who was a member of the Exhibition Committee. He wrote and published a paper Hindustani and Bengali. unfounded apprehensions Nawab Abdul Latif. No than one hundred and ninety eight families left home rather than be enumerated. Abdul Latif was a member of the Special Committee of Justices charged with carrying out the census. regarding the census as an intrusion into the privacy of their family life and as a raid upon their houses with the object of imposing fresh taxes upon them. Government was only anxious to improve the condition of the people and to make known to them better and more modern Latif's sensible methods. Abdul in the people and convincing paper did much to inspire confidence and to make the exhibition a success. pointing out that so far from endeavouring to spy out the resources of the land in order to impose fresh taxation. and again a paper of his. Two the years later the first census of 1865-6 aroused same unreasoning lower suspicion and fewer excitement among the classes.
objection to the Bill had been aroused. The im- portance of the changes proposed was much exaggerated among the ignorant classes who came to regard the Bill as a serious attack upon their religion and as an attack upon the sanctity of their women. quick to see the harm that they might do and the progress and re- trograde nature of their teaching which was opposed to all his theories of modern advancement.130 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL Government of India "to Legislative Council of the legalise under certain circumstances the remarriage of native converts to Christianity.- The result was that the Muhammadan com- munity was exempted from the operation which shortly afterwards became law. To counteract this unwarrantable belief Moulvi Abdul Latif convened a meeting of the leaders of Muham- madan society at his own house and as a result a memorial was drawn up that and submitted to the Legislative Council. and the from the Muhammadan point of of the act. pointing out in respectful terms the opposition view. Moulvi Abdul Latif.. ." Much dissatis- faction was expressed among the Muhammadan comfact that certain provisions of munity owing to the the Bill were regarded as being in direct opposition to the principles of Muhammadan Law. In 1870 the lower classes of the Muhammadan community were again thrown into a state of excitement by the conduct and preaching of the Wahabis who were rapidly becoming a serious thorn in the side of Government.
Sir Ashley In making the presentation Sir Ashley acknowledged how much the recipient had done 'to promote the interests of his Eden. one of the most celebrated religious teachers of the day. it received also the appro- bation of the Muftis of Mecca who were consulted On the occasion of the Imperial Assembly at Delhi and the proclamation of the Queen-Empress came the first titular honour bestowed upon Abdul Latif by government. in the following August.NAWAB ABDUL at LATIF this 131 influence. of India. the sanad of the title of Khan Bahadur being personally presented to him at Belvedere by the Lieutenant-Governor. Not only was this address fully approved by all the leading Muhammadans on the subject. co-religionists' adding that to him it 'was mainly due that they were then adopting the study of western literature and fitting themselves to compete with the young men of other classes. to the an exposition of the law on the duty of in British India towards the ruling This he embodied in a paper which he read Literary Society on November 23rd 1870. showing clearly from the classical works of Muhammadan Jurisprudence that British India Muhammad an was Dar-ul-Islam and that as such it would be unlawful and irreligious for Muhammadans to preach a Jahad against it as the ruling power. once took steps to counteract He obtained from Moulvi Karamat Ali of Jaunpur. Muhammadans power.' .
welcoming of his the making countrymen better known to the English people. in Almost at a moment's officially notice December 1886 he was asked to proceed to Bhopal to undertake the duties of Prime Minister of that state. however. is the best evidence of the manner in which he performed "It gives his difficult duties. The dissolution of Parliament. he accepted the office and was prepared to start for England. of Commons was economic appointed financial to enquire of the the and condition Viceroy being asked to nominate representative Indians to proceed to England to give evidence. needs fellow- another opportunity for usefulness official outside the narrow limits of his ordinary studies was afforded him. the following remarks contained / i .132 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL In the following year a committee of the English House into India. written to him by Sir Lepel Griffin. special important It was a and temporary appointment deemed desirable under special circumstances by the Government of India and the following letter of June 5th 1886. caused the abandonment of the plan. Abdul Latif had the distinction of being chosen by Lord Northbrook to represent the Muhammadan opportunity of community the and. Seven years later. on his relinquishing the office. me the sincerest pleasure" wrote Sir / Lepel "to communicate to you by direction of the Government of India. Agent to the Governor-General for Central India.
that. "It w as T in December 1885 notice. discretion. I should have been well content to }nd integrity." continues Sir Lepel "I desire to add my personal testimony to the value of your services. provisional appointment was fully approved by Her Highness. and with singular ability. . are fully appreciated by the Government of His Excellency the Viceroy has consented to appoint an English Minister in his place but this India. appointment involves no disapproval of the Nawab's action which appears to His Excellency to have been marked by ability and uprightness. From that time to this you have conducted your duties at Bhopal to my entire \ Satisfaction. . until the return from England of an English Officer. under trying and difficult circumstances. Nawab Abdul Latif will leave the Bhopal State with a reputation not only unimpaired but increased by the occurrences of the last few months/ "To these expressions of approval of His Excellency and the Government of India. at my request and at a day's to take you left Calcutta for Bhopal of an exceedingly difficult appointment.NAWAB ABDUL 4 in a letter LATIF 133 from the Foreign Secretary to to inform of the 28th of May 'I am request you Nawab Abdul Latif that the services which he has rendered to the Bhopal State. whom Her Highness the up the temporary charge Begum Your at the time desired to appoint as Minister.
"To this assurance I can add nothing . principle It was in accordance with the which renders the English Government always disinclined to interfere.134 see in a TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL you remain in office. for the advan. I have always held that. a . "The Government of India have assured you that your reputation will be not only unimpaired but increased by your conduct during the last few months. MuLammadan Minister is the most suitable and his Excellency the Viceroy and the Government of India have also strongly held this opinion. obligation to show the utmost deference and consideration for Her Highness' wishes. "The appointment of an English Minister of high character and great administrative experience will doubtless be. of except in the last necessity. tage of the justice to Bhopal State but it is no more than you to place on official record the fact that the Government are altogether satisfied with your services in Bhopal. and that an English Minister has been selected and nominated by His Excellency the Viceroy in accordance with the urgent and reiterated requests of Her Highness the Begum. Muhammadan State like Bhopal. in many particulars. that His Excellency the Viceroy intimated his willingness to accede to her request and select a suitable English d Officer for the post of Minister. with the internal affairs Native States and fully recognising his .
During thirty-six years' had only been absent from duty for four months on sick leave a splendid record that few he had so service he servants of the Crown could equal. This is the highest Indian title to which a Muhammadan can attain and its bestowal as universally recognised upon Abdul Latif was a fitting and crowning honour to the services he had rendered. not only to Government but to his own fellow countrymen of all and creeds. He had been decorated two years previously with the companionship of the Order of the Indian Empire and in 1887 the year of the Jubilee of the Queen-Empress the title of Nawab Bahadur was conferred upon him. never castes flagging in his zeal for the welfare of his co-religionists and enjoying to the full the unmistakable signs .NAWAB ABDUL LATIF than 135 prosperity. my sincere wish for your future and the expression of the feeling of warm friendship and esteem which you have inspired in myself. freed at last after so all many years' from official duties. On his retire- ment from government a service he was granted a special pension on the generous scale of 600 Us. was able from this time onward to devote his whole time to the causes much at heart. month. For six years longer he was enabled to continue his ceaseless activities. and in those Political Officers who have had the acquaintance in pleasure and advantage India." of your Central Abdul service Latif.
Many were the tributes paid to his memory immediately after his death. while of the Every newspaper in India bore testimony to the great work that he had many less appreciative. The Times English papers were scarcely of September the 4th that 1893 published a short memoir shows how strongly the splendid achievements of Abdul Latif had impressed the British public. The association which he formed exactly 30 years ago.136 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL Beloved and respectfull of of success of his life's labours. and the . corporate effort. has grown into a power in the land. done. Here we can only lament the loss which many who are trying to do good work for India have sustained by his death. well be quoted as typical of the many that appeared. He died on the 18th of July 1893 in Calcutta at the age of sixty five. under the modest name of the Muhammadan Literary Society. rather than by his individual will of followers and he leaves behind him a body both able and determined to carry on his labours. "would form a noble" theme for a biographer. his last years were happiness. "The the firmness of resolve. ed by all. his almost wonderful strength and vitality remaining with him till the end. and the un' wearied tact and moderation with which he carried out his self-appointed task during 40 chequered years. characteristic of the man to effect his purposes by means of gradual . however. it r ran. It was. The tribute herein paid him may skill.
' A self-made man. of men and affairs and his gift of conversamade him a delightful and interesting companion. but it is as a Muham- led forth his countrymen into new fields achievement and new realms of knowledge.NAWAB ABDUL mother of LATIF societies 137 many affiliated it is throughout Northern India. Above all he possessed in full measure an knowledge tion overflowing sympathy with his fellowmen and an intense desire to help forward by every means in his . courtesy. The the shape of Government gave him what it had to give in titles and honours. while his land. scarcely too much to say that almost the whole in Muhammadan community accepts as a matter of course the views which leaders refused even to discuss with the young reformer 40 years ago. This is his best public In private life his gentleness of manner epitaph." Well did Sir Richard Temple write of him as most progressive and enlightened among the Muhammadans of Bengal. that Abdul Latif has of madan who won 'the his place in Indian history. he rose to be one of the most trusted advisers of Government and the \ friend of the greatest in the His charming manners and innate courtesy of disposition fitted him to adorn any society. Bengal now its Indeed. with few advantages of birth or position to help him at the start. with the store of experience eventful years. and his sincere. if rather oriental. endeared British and anecdotes gathered during 65 him to many friends. witnout losing his own orthodoxy.
he lost no them by every means East and the West. He awake and^ . When once he had decided what course to follow he pursued it through good report and ill with quiet determination till success crowned his efforts. in his power. tempered by the cautiousness and tact of the Oriental. all opportunity. life It was truly said of him that he was the and centre of Indian society in Calcutta for he alone was the friend equally all Muhammadan and Hindu. perforce sank their of his of and jealousies under the influence good nature and quick sympathy. 'This man ne'er lost a friend nor made a foe' might well be taken as his epitaph. and the directness and indomitability He had of the of industry West combined with the patience and the East. of pointing out to He served to combine in his character the best traits of the the energy of the Anglo-Saxon. He found it backward and apathetic. a debt of The Muhammadan community owes gratitude to Nawab Abdul Latif Bahadur it * which it behoves never to forget. it in spite of strong opposition. who differences European. stinately Defusing to recognise the march left it of events / and the necessity of change. helplessly clinging to its old ideals and shibboleths and ob- . sunk in ignorance and prejudice and content to see itself surpassed in every walk of life by the Hindu community. Quick to judge in which direction the true interests of his Muhammadan countrymen lay.138 power their happiness and prosperity.
NAWAB ABDUL eager to LATIF 139 regain the struggling manfully ground that had been lost. against great odds and asitself siduously equipping it with the weapons which had so long despised. . To Nawab Abdul Latif will the always remain the honour of having been among to point out the road of progress along which the Muhammadan community has since made such first great strides.
Keshub Chandra Sen .
His was one of the few names that was familiar during his lifetime towards his not the only among the vast millions who inhabit Indian Empire but among European nations whose knowledge of India and all things Indian was then far slighter than it is to-day. no Hindu before him ever a of achieved so widespread reputation or drew closely the attention life both East and West and teaching. with its latest scientific inventions.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN 18381884 Xo name of in the is annals of Bengal as in the nineteenth century more widely known than that Sen. half understood and imperfectly applied. Keshub Chandra Sen's Ife coincided interesting with one of the most important that and intellectual revolutions India has ever seen. After long centuries of isolation East and West had met. and fusion of thought and speech had begun. Keshub Chandra son' greatest by so eminent Spoken an of 'Indian's Orientalist as Professor Max so Miiller. its latest literary achievements and its latest artistic triumphs . On the one hand stood western civilization. had yet caught the imagination of -the East. Born at a time when Western education.
might raise no new ones to supply their that place. after him along the lines The great and widespread influence that his life and conduct had even upon those who did not follow him in his new belief. and at the same time the power to which he lead laid men down. strangled in the grip of and decaycustom and tradition. The restraints the old caste system had enforced upon life generally. At a time when chaos threatened. socially.142 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL culture. tion Keshub Chandra Sen had the ability and the courage to formulate a new belief. It life new and to prevent a break new religion and a new were found to which was the old problem which men might so many have sought to solve without success. There was imminent danger that the new system of life and thought. of the East and the West. and the new civilisation had as yet failed to impose other restraints that had the same binding force. threatening its first overwhelm them in impetuous rush. purified and refined. the reconciliaof the old and the new. called The work that Keshub Chandra Sen was do was to combine all all upon to that was best in the old with that was best in the a with the old before philosophy of adhere. out of the old. effete on the other stood eastern ing. morally and mentally had been roughly cast aside. set . The full force of about the old to modern thought had been let loose ideals and the old beliefs. while sweeping away the old beliefs.
honest. obtaining a post as assistant type-setter at the Asiatic Society's press on a monthly salary of only eight rupees.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN him day. in this For eight years he plodded on all humble post. the family from which Keshub sprang had been resident for some generations at Garifa. Sen of the Vaidiya caste was a poor. English at a small there were no With Hindu education. to Yet there was of little in his earliest years give promise to the brilliant little career that was later be his. apart as 143 of one of the moving spirits the Claiming descent from the ancient Sen Kings Bengal. Keshub's grandfather. hardas Gouripur. who first raised the family to a position of dignity and affluence. school learning the river where up dictionaries and no text books. he to earn his was forced from an early age own living. He all was one of that first little company of Hindus in Bengal who were quick to take advantage of that western civilisation offered by adapting themselves to western culture and western modes of thought. Gokul Chandra Calcutta. now of some twenty-four miles above His great grandfather. respected particular distinction. It by his fellows but of no was his son Ram Kama! Sen. known working villager. He began at the very lowest rung of the literary ladder. throwing all his energies into the work and doing meanwhile that lay in his power to improve his education and prepare himself .
. he took a keen interest. public Unspoilt by his marvellous success.and the Sanskrit College in 1824. spoke of as 'the fullest.000 Us. of . he was offered the responsible and distinguished post of Treasurer of the Calcutta Mint. most valuable work of its kind which we possess and which will be the most lasting monument of Earn Kamal Sen's industry. while to promote the acquisition of English by his countrymen he entered upon and carried through the great labour producing a dictionary in English and Bengali. he was appointed a clerk in the office. the of celebrated Serampore Missionary.a His success in this post led to the Dewanship the Bank of Bengal with an income.144 for TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL a His knowledge and industry attracting the attention of the officials of the Society.' education was supplemented by exertions in the cause of sanitation on of His work on behalf . and continued to rise step by step. until he eventually rose to be a member of the Council of the Asiatic Society whose service he had eight first entered as a type-setter on rupees a month. In the establishment of the Hindu College in 1817. of 2. zeal and erudition. His abilities becoming widely recognised. which Dr. more important post. his strenuous efforts for the welfare of his fellow- countrymen kept pace with his own advancement. Marshman. his capability and activity keeping pace with each new advance. influential position in month and an assured and life. Later he became native secretary.
however. who always gratefully acknowledged tow much he owed to His youth was spent amidst the pleasantest surroundings.' . dying at the early age of thirty four. and so life.' Keshub's father. my to but as I grew up my mind began 10 show the spirit of natural poverty. his early association with when him and the deep veneration in which he was held by any way associated with him cannot fail to Tiave impressed him at the most impressionable period all in of his During those first five years the child and the old man had become firm friends. 'by was reared' said Keshub at a later date a wealthy father surrounded and grandfather. He was a young man of exemplary life and character and his early death was a great loss to Keshub. Peary Mohan Sen was the second son of Ram Kamal whom he only survived four years. Although Keshub was only Tris five years old grandfather died. His mother. proud of the position he had won by her early training. iis own exertions and ability took a delight in providing 'I his family with every comfort and luxury. proved not only an adequate guardian but a source of inspiration to her son. His grandfather. 145 and by generous gifts to Hospitals and to the District Charitable Society. highly did his grandfather think of his early precocity that he is reported to have said. 'Keshub alone will be able to sustain the family reputation.KESHUB CHANDKA SEN which he held views far in advance of his day. Opulence and luxury childhood.
and amongst young companions.146 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL At the age of seven he was entered at the Hindu foundation of College. which he taught the other boys who entered with enthusiasm leader. he devoted by far kept himself the greater portion of his time to his studies and to such effect did he apply himself that at the age of fourteen he was in the of first senior class of the College. and in the following year those boys who had left the Hindu College in order to join it . he hid even in young days great force of character beneath a retiring manner. In the playground Keshub assigned to them. School Department his the Hindu Unhis fortunately transference studies were interrupted by on its Metropolitan College inception in 1853. whose morals were far from beyond reproach. For immorality and falsehood he always had the greatest aversion and contempt. prizes for English and Mathematics the first From several years in succession. Magic were his especial boyish delights and and juggling he himself acquired considerable dexterity in theinto the parts that juggler's art. his Quiet and reserved. carrying off he distinguished himself. but though started under such promising auspices that college did not fulfil its to the expectations. A keen student. he pure and straight. in the which his grand- father had taken so great an interest twenty eight years before. Among his school fellows he proved himself a born he was continually inventing new games.
first prominently introduced to Indian students by Captain Richardson. had this great end in view. Shakespeare. he set himself to further the great cause. day and Keshub was Hamlet was his favourite play and he himself took the given main part of in a performance by members his Evening school. he hoped. Soon after leaving college he started a Literary Society. for the proof literature and science. His . to be the first was need of his fellow countrymen and so far as he able. was one in of the favourite studies of the them an enthusiast. he and instructing . into the wide range of which he plunged with youthful ardour devoted himself chiefly to and enthusiasm. known motion as the British Indian Society. his friends English literature and philosophy.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN found themselves seeking 147 into his readmission the last institution they had deserted. and shortly after- wards he opened the Coltolla Evening School to which he gathered numbers of young men from the neighbourhood of his own house. though modestly begun. he conceived. and his first attempts. During years at College Keshub the study of mental and moral philosophy. Education. of From the wider diffusion knowledge and culture would. spring in due course all the moral and social advancement that he so ardently desired. Keshub found time to enter upon various projects which had long been forming Leaving his college in mind. by his own individual efforts.
however. Buried in his books or sunk in thought he spent long hours alone. Pre-eminently of a religious turn of mind. and he soon inspired the members of his Society and Evening school with his own love of it. turning his back .148 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL acquaintance not only with Shakespeare but with English literature generally was surprising. defficulties that beset him he was fully aware. To reconcile the old traditions and impossible. Stern and austere at this time. as he himself admitted had unsettled mind. he had from the Of the first attempted to combine secular education with the maintenance of religious beliefs. Norendra Nath Sen and Devendra Nath Tagore. Towards that end. By continual study and contemplation he sought to acquire the truth. he devoted the most anxious and searching enquiries. Greater. Beyond the him in the Literary Society and the Evening school that he had founded. James Long. friends associated with he had previously se much loved. his superstitions with modern education was Education. He had given up the old faith but he had gained no positive system of b'elief to replace it. than his desire for intellectual improvement was his desire for moral and religious advancement. however. his chief friends being the Rev. he saw scarcely any one. he lived the Eating neither flesh nor fish. he gave up card playing and novel reading and all the theatrical and conjuring performances that life almost of an ascetic.
which were later to exercise so great an influence.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN completely 149 Serious.' name of I did not allow myself to harbour sectarianism. 'I established life my days' wrote Keshub in later small fraternity in my own house to which earlier 'a I gave the the somewhat singular but significant 'Goodwill Fraternity. Every Man our Brother. exercising a strong fascination over all who heard him. lecturing . In 1857 Keshub Sen founded the was a purely religious Fraternity. Upon he whom the minds of the young men and boys addressed in the 'Goodwill Fraternity' it had a powerful effect and many of those who met him here for 'the first time became gatherings. first began to develop and expand.' It was in these gatherings that Keshub's oratorical powers. His intense earnestness and glowing enthusiasm inspired others . Full and free discussion on every in religious topic was desired.' and devotional association and here he was at his 'Goodwill best. on the lighter side of life. earnest and as yet unsatisfied. Already his eloquence was remarkable. but preached to my friends these two doctrines 'God our Father. and discussing the various questions which he had so closely studied in his long hours of solitude and meditation. in after life his most devoted followers. he bent gies all his ener- on solving the great questions old beliefs of life to which a the had given him Chandra It so inadequate reply.
TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL
with the same
and the fame
of the 'Goodwill
rapidly grew. Among the the reports of Keshub's eloquence by
Devendra Nath Tagore, and
most distinguished was it was at one of the
meetings of the 'Fraternity' that they
lasting friendship that not even
Between them was destined to grow up a firm and
was able to destroy. Devendra Nath Tagore, belonging to one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in Calcutta, was then the leader
in later days
Brahmo Samaj, founded by
Ram Mohan Roy
thirty years before,
was doubtless very largely
owing to his influence that Keshub definitely joined
that body in 1857. This decided step at once involved him in difficulties with his family and relatives, since
he refused in consequence to undergo the
hands of the family ceremony guru, which would at that time in the ordinary course have taken place. Every effort was made to
of initiation at the
induce him to give
in the face of persuasion,
threats, and entreaties he stood firm, believing that he had at last found in the new faith that he had
adopted the way
which he had so long sought.
starting of the
school in 1859 was
was a development
Fraternity' and the Coltolla Evening School, and was destined to play an important part in the
KESHUB CHANDRA SEN
history of the
not only placed the hitherto vague conception of Brahmoism on a sound and rational basis of philosophy but it bound together
a growing company of young men eager for the advancement of truth and learning. The Brahmo School at
first held weekly meetings every Sunday Keshub and Devendra Nath Tagore were
discourses of the one contrasting with the closely
reasoned and classical Bengali discourses on the faith Brahmoism of the other.
Not content with
earnest personal appeals
in the cause of progress,
Keshub was ambitious
wider public and from this time onwards sought to spread his opinions through the press. His first
this is for you.'
called 'Young Bengal, he drew attention to the fact
a period of scepticism and irreligion had succeeded the sudden intellectual revival in Bengal
and urged that
essential for true progress
that religious development should go
was followed by a
deeply religious, forming the
with power and authority the principles of the new faith. About this time also he founded the Sangat
TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL
foremost Brahmos of later days
Sava, another association for religious discussion, to
In the midst of these philanthropic activities, Keshub had endeavoured to follow the universal
Bengal for a young man to adopt the family profession. In 1859 in accordance with family tradition he entered the Bank of
practice then in
Bengal, beginning as a clerk on the modest stipend of 25 Us. a month. Though the work was utterly
did he perform his
duties that before a year
doubled and apart from his family influence it was certain that speedy promotion awaited him. But
the conviction soon took deep root in him that he
upon to give up
his life entirely to his
educational and religious work and two years after
astonished his friends
resigning his position.
class to give
his worldly prospects
in order to devote himself entirely to the advance-
of his fellow-countrymen,
ness and unselfishness greatly enhanced his already
growing reputation. In 1860 he visited Krishnagar, on one of his first famous missionary expeditions, and so far broke with family customs and tradition as
accompany Devendra Nath Tagore on a voyage to Ceylon by sea. Though the spell had been broken
by the journey
Earn Mohan Roy to England thirty
KESHUB CHANDRA SEN
needed considerable courage to
break through the strong opposition of relatives and friends among whom the prejudice against crossing the sea was still deeply ingrained. But Keshub's
voyage to Ceylon was only the prelude to the longer voyage to England which he was already contemplating and which was to take form ten years hence.
further convinced that
was to the press
that he must look even more than to his personal
exertions and his personal eloquence,
successfully advance the cause of education and religion, Keshub determined to start a periodical of
In August 1861 with the help of hi& friends, among whom Man Mohun Ghose was one of
the leading spirits, he brought out the first number of the Indian Mirror as a fortnightly journal. There
was at that tune only one English
Calcutta conducted by an Indian Editor, and
an interesting fact that both these papers, the Hindu Patriot and the Indian Mirror are still in existence
Although the latter paper afterwards passed out of Keshub's control he owned various other newspapers at different times, many of which
commanded a wide circulation. In all attempted to make fair consideration and
and though they ardently the schemes which he had at heart he waa supported
careful to avoid the adoption of a violently partisan
shades of opinion and permitting
Formally appointed a minister of the Brahmo Samaj in 1862 by Devendra Nath Tagore, he was
in the latter's house,
upon him. The occasion of the marks another step in the advance toof the
wards the emancipation
Desirous that his wife,
he had married accord-
years before, should be
present at the ceremony, he brought her to Calcutta
from the family residence
where she had
been living with his relatives.
opposed this further departure from orthodox Hindu custom, and his persistence meant for the time
But Keshub was con-
vinced that the time had come when Indian
should play a more prominent part in
life, being a better education and a greater freedom of given A action, and he held on his way undismayed.
patched up in
the following year, was again broken by dissensions over the Jat Karma, the thanksgiving for the
advanced Keshub's strong personality and winning disposition not only overcame the opposition
of his relatives
but succeeded in carrying them with
eager to throw off that retarded progress and hold fast only . Everywhere he was received with popular acclamation. and he returned from the tour greatly encouraged and more firmly convinced than before of the great work that lay before him and his followers. his eloquence and enthusiasm earning for him in Madras the name of 'The Thunderbolt of Bengal. their opinions must separate them. In 1864 Keshub started on an extensive mission- ary tour with the object of awakening the whole of India to participate in the general progress which he had so strenuously advocated in Calcutta.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN him as 155 some of his most enthusiastic supporters in the cause of progress. eventually to a very great extent Devendra Nath Tagore represented of the older generation the Rennaissance. fully imbued with the necessity of advancing with the times yet cautious and conservative. Meanwhile unfortunate dissensions had been gradually arising in the Brahmo Samaj itself. firm as their friendship might be. less bound to to the old all traditions and the old beliefs. Keshub on the other hand represented the second generation of the reform movement.' In al- of most every place he visited he found the same spirit enquiry and eagerness for knowledge. anxious to break with the past as little as might be. it had been for some time evident to both that. Devoted to each other as Devendra Nath Tagore and Keshoib were.
for instance. to its- the It essential Hindu rites having been omitted. The had were still more question of intermarriage also arisen. Keshub Samaj under Chandra Sen founded new Brahmo lines November the llth. being no matter what his creed or caste One of its members men main objects was to include among its of all nationalities and races. The members of the Brahmo Samaj all of all castes and having abandoned of caste- restrictions. taken up the cause of widow re-marriage with enthusiasm. who was not a Brahmin. be on the broadest Samaj of India on The new Samaj was ta and open to any human might be. to the ministry but he was at heart strongly conservative and there were many innovations advocated by Keshub and the younger generation to which he could not subscribe. It was . Keshub had. but here Devendra Nath Tagore could not difficult follow him.156 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL Devendra Nath Tagore had indeed discarded the Brahmanical thread and had appointed to the truth. up the later was a subject which Keshub was to take with good results but meanwhile it widened in the the breach that was gradually separating the old and new element Finally Brahmo Samaj with the old . the question intermarriage among them was bound to arise. The first intermarriage according to the Brahmo ritual took place in August 1862 but serious doubts were expressed as legality. 1860. breaking Devenjira Nath the Tagore. Keshub.
It new church Keshub's of the new Faith. like that of Ram Mohan Roy just forty years before. To all parts of India Keshub and good will. was opened for service in August 1869. the was on several occasions Governor-General. aroused . whose guest he in Simla. is 'The wide universe the Temple of God' ran the motto of of the new Faith 'Wisdom : the pure land Truth is the everlasting Scripture : pilgrimage Faith is the root of all religion Love is the true . his little band of followers. the Zendavesta and the Shastras. the thirty-eighth anniversary of the Brahmo Samaj as founded by Ram Mohan Roy.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN to be a world-wide church. and to include Bible. was the laid the foundation stone of the Brahma Mandir. the all its 157 doctrines were those that were highest and best in the Koran. Keshub and having given up all their worldly prospects threw themselves with true missionary zeal into the work of spreading the tenets of their faith. visit to England in 1870. On the 24th of January 1868. Scriptural is Culture : the Destruction of It Selfishness the true asceticism. all of extracts from which met for the of first time side by side as the creed is the new Brahmo Samaj.' was to be a universal church founded on broad principles to which the whole world might subscribe if it would. being everywhere welcomed by officials and non-officials from Lord alike and meeting much sympathy carried his message of peace Lawrence.
which contrasted so strikingly with the slow leisureliness of the East. R. inscribed in Chandra Sen from Victoria. Of his first amusing The luxury of hotel life astonished him while what surprised him still more at first sight was European account. Sept. Glodstone and John Stuart Mill. the National Indian Association which has survived till the present day being founded by Miss Mary Carpenter to promote the cause that Keshub had so closely at heart. movement and general In England he met with a warm welcome. After six months in England. Among the many whom the he met were Dean Stanley. Mr. he left for India strengthened of the greatest and encouraged by contact with some . 1870. first two he formed a received life long friendship. reaching England in the month of March. impressions he has left an the hurry and bustle of the streets.' He visited no fewer than fourteen of the chief towns of and copies of her her own hand "To Keshub England and Scotland. Professor Max With Miiller. Nothing daunted however. in private audience' Queen who presented him with engraving of herself two books. He was by a large graciously Victoria.158 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL criticism much and opposition. officials Lord Lawrence and many other who has known him proved themretired selves good friends and introduced him to all that was best in English society. by fierce denunciation or evil prognostications he set out in the spring of that year.
bringing the management of the new association. each with its special work. and a headed by improve 'The Times. Its object was 'the social and moral reformation of the natives of India/ and it was divided tions with which he into five branches. So deeply was he touched by the universal kindness he met with from all classes. with the immense power wielded by the Impressed press in England.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN minds of 159 the day and with his loyalty to the British Government greatly intensified. Its influence in its first days of prosperity was . under published. as he himself said. from Her Majesty the Queen to the poorest peasant that. called the upon the Sulav Samachar.' Keshub endeavoured to newspapers he had formerly out a weekly pice paper. One of the first acts of Keshub on his return to India was the establishment of the Indian Reform Association on the lines of the most modern associa- had become acquainted in England. especially by the daily papers Indian women. his loyalty to the great nation which had done so much for India became a part henceforward of his religion. Being the first paper of its kind published in India it achieved immediate popularity. One branch occupied itself with the and good able relief tion of : literature : which was to supply cheap be made easily of accessible to all : a second was entrusted with charitall a third with matters concerning educa- a fourth with the improvement of the position fifth with temperance work.
Coming from the midst of his own community. he was greatly struck by the fact that in England not only had women taken their place on an equality with men in social life but that they were everywhere actively in all participating movements which philanthropic In spite of their unrestricted social intercourse.160 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL and it far-reaching. Normal School that is 2. Nothing had impressed Keshub as' more sharply in contrast with conditions in his own country than the high position occupied by women in English life. did much not only to bring home to a very wide public the lessons which Keshub sought to teach but succeeded further in advancing the cause of cheap and popular journalism. Soon after its commencement there were no fewer than fifty Hindu ladies of the highest castes regularly attending the school. His more English experiences urged Keshub to take up again enthusiastically than before the cause of the women of India and one of the most successful branches of the Indian Reform Association was the Normal School for Indian ladies. receiving instruction on modern lines such as had never before been obtainable by Indian women. the deference and respect with public of the day. So cordially did Government approve of the object and work of the offered a grant of Ks. . and they met was particularly striking.000 annually towards its maintenance. in whose public life women played no part.
One of the greatest permanent measures that Keshub was able to accomplish was the passing of the Brahmo Marriage Act of 1872. But many difficulties had to be overcome before the Bill became law. He had long been aware how firm a hold intemperance threatened to gain upon a certain section of his fellow-countrymen evil and he set himself to combat the in his power. The Adi-Brahmo Samaj. for years awaited a definite The Advocate-General when referred to had pronounced against the legality . which the old caste system had exercised over its generation and members. The difficult question of intermarriage among members of the Brahmo community had solution.of such marriages on the ground that they complied with no form^ of recognised marriage ceremony. the old Brahmo community under Devendra Nath Tagore. he endeavoured to instill into them a horror of intemperance and the degradation that it brought inevitably in its train.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN 161 Of temperance work Keshub had seen much in England and this also he took up with renewed energy on his return. considered its own marriage ceremonies section of the 11 . could It was such apparent that only legislation set marriages on a safe and legal footing. by every means upon the rising Here as elsewhere in the cause of chiefly progress he set his hopes realising that the young men of his day were growing up largely without the restraints.
Sikh or Jain religion. providing Henceforward of its for convenience a special law. The Bill was therefore altered to apply only to members of the Brahmo Samaj and it was expressly stipulated that the contracting parties should state that they did not profess the Hindu. the Brahmo Samaj had own form marriage . of It was an official recognition its the Brahmo Samaj. was to render legal all marriages not performed according to any recognised form of religion. any marriage not solemnised nor shall this act be deemed any mode but the validity of any into question before if directly or indirectly to affect the validity of of contracting marriage . allowing any man to marry whomsoever he pleased irrespective of caste.162 amply bill sufficient and it it was difficult so to frame the as to prevent doing injustice to those its who The declined to take advantage of original intention of the Act provisions. but this practical institution of civil marriage met with a strong protest on the ground that it would totally destroy the ancient social organization of the country. Muhammadan. such question shall be decided as this The Act finally became law act had not been passed. the act expressly in this that 'nothing act contained shall affect the validity of under its provisions . if such mode shall hereafter come any Court. Christian. Buddhist. To avoid any stated possible hardships. Parsi.' on the 19th March 1872 and Keshub rightly regarded it as one of his greatest triumphs.
and on the other a too sweeping and radical programme of reform. Lord Northbrook. the Viceroy accompanied by unprecedented honour after his daughter paid him the almost having visited of a visit at his private house the Normal School in 1874. was inevitable that Keshub's many activities should stir up enmity in certain quarters and he had It like all reformers to submit to a storm of abuse from those who were strongly opposed to his views.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN service 163 which was as legal as that of any other religion in India. He was convinced that progress must be worked out slowly and with of true infinite precaution and that the cause reform could never be advanced by sudden upheavals but only gradually evolved step by step. those who came in contact with him were impressed not only with his sincerity but with his moderation. by retaining the good and sedulously eliminating the evil. He was anxious only to avoid on the one hand social and political stagnation. With many other lowest he was on officials from the highest to the All cordial terms of friendship. From to agree to differ encouragement. In 1878 Keshub's daughter was married to the . Though he numbered his friends among all ranks and all classes there were many who were not generous enough from him on certain points and to acknowledge the good work he was undoubtedly Government he met with great doing.
Mission and pensation. but opposition Keshub to greater exertions and the wonderful revival of that year led to his pro- clamation of the of New Dispensation. To spread abroad his views. all hold fast to that which is 'Try things good. The controversy unfortunately in led to a fur- ther split the stir served only to Brahmo Samaj. he turned again to the press and later.164 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL of Maharaja of Cooch Behar. marriage which the relatives of the Maharaja naturally wished to invest with Hindu rites. Sunday The Liberal and The Neiv Dispublications himself started The All his were studiously in moderate and though by no means lacking courage and independence. were always courteous to the opinions and beliefs of others. was the mission of the best that was Hinduism. and throughout lie was conmotto that he had adopted. Muhammadanism and Buddhism should be welded together in the Church of the New Dispensation. in addition to his own personal eloquence. Considerable opposition to the marriage his was manifested by a certain section followers and difficulties arose over the ceremonies. He was respected and esteemed bv so orthodox a .' His Catholicism was proved by the number of his friends who were drawn from all walks of life. The Christianity. He never denied access to his columns to fair and honest criticism of his work. first To him the in harmony religions Brahmo Samaj. sistent in following the .
"You are bound to be loyal to your divinely-appointed sovereign" he wrote to his people. Keshub's began to give serious cause for alarm. "Not to be loyal" he argues base ingratitude and absence of faith in Providence.' Worn by his ceaseless activities and dissensions among his followers. social and political reformation. that came to your rescue as God's ambassador when your country was sunk in ignorance and superstition and hopeless jejuneness. Honour your Sovereign and the entire ruling body with fervent loyalty. the more we shall advance with the aid of our rulers in the poth of moral. None realised more fully than Keshub Chandra Sen how essential it was to the peace and welfare of his country that the British Government should receive the operation of loyal and hearty co- his fellow countrymen. The knowledge that his end was near served to urge . You are bound to be loyal to the British Government.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN Hindu so 165 as Maharaja Sir Jotindra good a by such faith as Muhammadan as men of western light and learning of another Professor Max Miiller and Dean Stanley. by Nawab Abdul Latif and Loyalty the watch-words of the Brahmo Samaj. worried by health now Visits to Darjeeling and Simla effected only temporary relief and he himself was the first to realise the fatal nature of the malady from which he was suffering. was one of Mohan Tagore. and has since lifted you to your present high position. The more loyal we are.
The it old unquestioned authority having find a been set aside. tried Such being the message that he had preach. To forgive and love one's enemies and not to indulge in anger when provoked by them. recognise that He was forced to men who had thrown off the time- honoured religious restraints under which they had been born were especially prone to dissensions among themselves. personal. It seemed to him that what was needed was some broad rule of life by which. however much they might With differ in details. of love. to the dissensions among his own followers were a great grief to him. was difficult to common meeting ground where all might join. him His last public lecture to Europe' was perhaps was one offer his finest effort. this object he drew up the Nava Samhita. unity 'Asia's message and concord. the New enunciated an ideal course of Way of Life which conduct. they might strive to live. It was the of a purely unsectarian all and universal religion that should embrace all creeds of and nations in one great brotherhood perfect harmony. . To look upon woman as the daughter of affection God and regard her with honour and 2. moral to which every man social. should strive to attain. These are briefly the twelve domestic and rules of life whereby the ideal man should endeavour to live 1.166 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL to one final spell of activity. and to cherish no impure thought or wish in regard to her.
and suffering. To seek not the to riches of the world. To be charitable to the poor and to relieve 7. To love justice. 11.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN 3. position. Yet even in drawing up these broad rules of life and conduct Keshub was anxious that they themselves should dissensions over their interpretation. To speak the truth and nothing but the truth. wealth. To be in the active in maintaining unity and har- mony forth community. 167 To rejoice in other man's happiness and not to harbour envy or jealousy. learning. and give every man his due. and to hate all manner of falsehood. Throughout the lesson of is that true labour in any field of life the one and only true worship. not become a cause of contension. There could be no higher ideals than those set in it the is Nava Samhita. 5. 8. 4. leading to fresh 'Let not the . all sickness 10. all To love To men and endeavour to promote the welfare of one's fellowmen. To give religious instruction one's household. 9. for the morrow. power or To live the life of an ascetic and to take no undue thought 6. fix one's heart on divine and heavenly worldliness. To be humble of in disposition and to harbour no pride religion. things and be not given to 12.
168 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL a Samhita be new fetish' lie wrote. differ . great man's worth. We should not therefore bow to its letter but accept its spirit and its essence for our guidance. quarters. sustained during the great physical agony of his last days by their love and veneration. The the funeral procession that followed his body to grave was one of the most imposing that Calcutta had ever seen. was the his final effort. and it was especially remarkable for the presence of all classes and all Hindus from and Muhammadans new faith. He died seven days later in midst of his sorrowing family and friends. It is only the national law of the in its application to social Aryans life. the Nava Devalaya. from Her Majesty the Queenand a host of English friends down to the Empress humblest who had known and appreciated the However much men might from him on many points. and the consecration ceremony on January the 1st 1884 to which he was carried from his sickbed. of the new Faith It contains the essence of God's moral law adapted to the peculiar needs and character of reformed Hinduism and based upon their national instinct and traditions. 'It is no infallible Gospel. there were few who did not recognise his earnestness and sincerity. mingling with his Condolences poured in creeds. followers of the all Europeans.' Adjoining his house in Upper Circular Road he built the new Sanctuary.
enthusiasts whom that renaissance How might have ended in a cataclysm of great was the influence of Keshub effectual Chandra Sen and how were his efforts towards checking the prevailing tendency towards unbelief and immortality must not be judged merely by the numerical strength of the Sanaa j that he founded.KESHUB CHANDRA SEN 169 His all-absorbing desire to benefit his fellow-countrymen. Worldly re- rewards he never sought and worldlv honours he fused. In an age of self seeking. though an ideal to which every Faith might well strive to attain. His way of life. and his constant efforts to make his new faith unsectarian and such that it might include the whole brotherhood of man. The decay of the spirit old faiths of had coincided with the great renaissance thought and education and but for the little of it company produced. gave up all to follow the way of to He life voluntarily that seemed him to lead to the highest and the / best. it is true. His influence went for deeper and his noble . won universal admiration and respect. It needed the enthusiasm and devotion of the earlier ages when the world was young and life less complex. was an ideal it which men in the nineteenth century found hard to follow. irreligion. he set a striking example of unselfishness. the opposite direction. It was in direct contrast to the growing worldliness and the keen competitive was a was in of the day against which it The whole tendency of the time protest.
and awakening his of their moral.170 life TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL and character left an of abiding impression on the thought and the spirit the of day. and intellectual responsibilities. and none who exercised a greater influence in irreligion stemming the and immorality. . countrymen to a sense social. Among century many distinguished Indians the there was none whose in name was more widely known tide of fellow- Europe and throughout the East.
Nawab Sir Khavvja Abdul Ghani Mia .
where all things were possible to the adventurer. THROUGHOUT the nineteenth century there was no name more revered in Eastern Bengal than that of Nawab Abdul Ghani.S. For over fifty years he was the leading Muhammadan in Dacca and the eastern provinces. seeklike ing'Jiis fortunes many Imperial Court of Delhi. Moulvi Abdulla set out for the eastern provinces on the outskirts still of the Empire. when the Imperial court ceased to afford another in his day at the On the fall of the Moghul opportunities for fortune building. Cashmir.C. generous all and public-spirited in contact won him. the affection of who came of The original founder the family was one Moulvi Abdulla who in the time of the Emperor Muhammad Shah came to India from. 18301896. Loyal. Finally reaching Sylhet he set . occupying a unique position there among Europeans and From a position alike. GHANI MIA.NAWAB SIR KHAWJA ABDUL K.I. Empire. eliciting admiration respect. ing his of own fellow-countrymen commandand he with comparative insignificance universal he raised himself and his family to one of eminence.
encumbered with debt. he succeeded in establishing a prosperous business.174 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL for himself as a up ledge of merchant there. his wide knowthe world and of men enabling him to meet success. He was one of the best types of the rising man of that generation. The old order was changing and the old families who had long held the neighbouring Zeminadries were dying out or. with Sending for his father and brother from Cashmir. before won for itself an acknowledged place among Zemindars of the Dacca district. It the more important was not. settling in known as Begum's Bazaar. until the time of Khawja Alimulla. were being forced to relinquish their possessions. Zemindary after Zemindary was bought up often at a nominal price and so successful did the enterprises of the descendants of Moulvi Abdulla prove that the trading from which their prosperity had originally taken its rise gradually abandoned. however. For the new man with brains. A Abdul Ghani the family had was generation. After his death his son and successor moved to Dacca which offered a wider and more convenient the quarter field of operations. that the family became known outside merely local limits. father of Abdul Ghani. his house immediate and godown occupying the site of the present Collectorate offices. energy and capital there was a chance such as seldom offered. It was a time of upheaval. Endowed with great business capacity .
known as the Pagla Nawab on account of his eccentricity. sunk debt and vice. purchasing Zemindaries not further afield Alimulla. Well-nigh all the old families were sharing the fate of the Nawabs. gradually disappearing from sheer exhaustion and inanition. coming to an end deep in in weak. was as typical of the passing order of things as Khawja Alimulla was of the rising generation. close. Not the of his business ability Everything he least striking instance was his purchase of the famous It diamond. From the first he had courted the society of Europeans. The last of the old Nawabs of Dacca. Bengal. the Dariya-i-Nur for only 60.NAWAB SIR ABDUL GHANI 175 seize the and strong common sense he was quick to golden opportunities that opened up before him. that Mymensingh and Tipperah. touched prospered. realising what few of his co-religionists had then done that if the Muhammadan community was to advance with the times and share in the general .000 Rs. Faridpur. Ghaziuddin Mahomed. Their degradation and helplessness were the opportunity of such men as Khawja Gradually owners were forced to sell in order to pay their debts. is now worth several lacs. as the embarrassed only in the Dacca district but in Chittagong. feeble specimens of humanity. he added to his already extensive estates. The time of change and unrest was drawing to its Already the old order had well-nigh passed the old authority and the old line of rulers away.
Born father on in 1830 Abdul Ghani Mia succeeded his latter's the death fell in 1848. a man of the world with experience of men and affairs. it and there belongs to him the credit of handing on turn to his son. Few Muhammadands of the day knew English and though he himself never acquired a of the language he was careful to see perfect grasp that the son whom he destined to succeed him acquired earliest complete knowledge of it. mixed freely making many friends both among officials and nonaffairs. While officials.176 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL must cast prosperity that was coming to Bengal it exclusiveness and aloofness from aside the old remaining strictly orthodox he with the Europeans of the station. From his years Khawja Alimulla had seen in his a all favourite son Abdul Ghani the traits of character that he held necessary in his successor. and to his father Abdul Ghani often in after years acknowledged that he owed a very large share of his success in life. Very carefully Khawja Alimulla watched over the training of his son. not diminished but enormously increased in value. It was a in his splendid inheritance that to him. Above all he administered his estates not solely with an eye to his own benefit but always with the very real and keen desire of all to contribute to the happiness and prosperity . The vast had accumulated needed a good properties that he business head to manage them.
The head of a large family he was continually called in upon to arbitrate in petty family disputes settle and these he never failed to giving satisfaction to all parties with tact and patience. A young man of charming address and manners he was as popular with Europeans as with his fellow-countrymen. The events Government. Keenly appreciating music and poetry. he was equally successful preventing friction in the family circle. while at pigsticking to which he was devoted he was more than a match for many European friends. he was fond of sport and of all manly games. even if the Blessed decision went against them. of 1857 gave Abdul Ghani a striking the British of first opportunity of proving his loyalty to When the rumours mutiny reached Dacca there were only two companies of the 73rd Native Infantry. numbering some ten hundred and sixty men. he consolidated and greatly improved the property. who. with 12 artillery stationed in . Strictly following the admirable example set by his father and adhering loyally to the principles laid down by him for the conduct of business. A model husband and father.NAWAB those in any SIR ABDUL _GHANI 177 way connected with them. he was a liberal patron of the acts and of his everything that tended to the spread of modern education among the Muhammadan community received his warm support. As a shot he excelled. with robust health. were convinced of his wisdom and impartiality.
His friends urged him to knowing that in consequence of his loyal conduct he would be the first to suffer in case the mutiny came to a head. His splendid courage and example did much to allay the panic and keep loyal many who would otherwise have wavered.178 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL These were known to be dis- the city at the time. and threatened though with robbery and personal violence for so doing by certain evil characters who were endeavouring to raise the sepoys to revolt. placing at their disposal all his vast resources and assisting in disarming the sepoys on November 22nd 1857. the from running away Abdul Ghani actively associated himself with the officials. Ghani certainly Though courteous and . service. he remained firm. British He further showed his confidence in the Government by subscribing largely to the Government loan which was opened about this time. and Eurasian all alike well as From of he won it is willing by and Indian loyal It has been said that attributes a great man one of the greatest that he. In his Zemindari work he was as assisted by European managers. So far however leave station. cf his Abdul Ghani threw the whole weight influence 'on the side of law and order. affected and excited by rumours that daily reached Dacca of the excesses committed by the sepoys elsewhere.shoulc^ be able to surround himself with capable and devoted servants possessed and in this full power Abdul measure.
freely Abdul Ghani moved among his guests listening to their grievances. either riding out. for the early Nawab himself always morning cup meant in their case a substantial breakfast. tendering his advice and settling their disputes in -truly patriarchal manner. He habitually rose early. It was a kind and considerate way of bestowing charity upon those who needed of tea of the it. At nine o'clock he used . It was only thus.NAWAB considerate to all.M. but all who wished to to see of his him as well as those who and came partake charity. were . that a great Zemindari 'Could be worked with complete of his success.always to be found at this early morning levee which was a strangely assorted gathering where all were welcome whether in rags or gorgeously attired. SIR ABDUL GHANI 179 there was never a moment's doubt that his was the directing and controlling mind. hunting or busying himself in his garden or taking long walks in the cool morning air. he took tea holding a kind was his of informal reception that included not only the of his family male members those and his friends. On his return shooting. In spite his life great wealth great Abdul Ghani conducted with simplicity. Many old invalid Muhammadans. no matter being too small for his personal attention. it custom to repair to his Charkhana where between 7 and 8 A. He had the whole of his vast business operations completely within his grasp. who had seen better days. as he himself was wont to say.
he took in company with all the chief of his family. that there an arbitrator. attending to their needs. the business that he had daily to transact the chief business of the was no light task. his office them and conversing with At two o'clock he usually in the went to room Ahsan Manzil where day claimed his attention. o'clock he sat with his friends and relatives.180 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL to retire to his private apartments where he remained which occupied with his own private affairs until breakfast. His business for the day over. returning From eight till ten in time for the evening meal. his personal habits and loyal to he desired no change. listen- ing to music or discoursing on current topics. he usually rode or drove late in the afternoon. Exercising so close a control over all the affairs of his vast Zemindari. was by no means confined to his own affairs. and so great was his reputation as his tact and knowledge of the world. instructing them on family matters. He was always accessible during these hours to any of his friends or tenants who wished to see him. . His work. Such was the daily routine of Abdul Ghani carried out with almost unvarying consistency for nearly forty years.. Extremely conservative as to his old friends. members was served. owing towere always to many who preferred to bring their disputes him for decision rather than to take them to the Law Courts. moreover. From his eleven till' two o'clock he devoted himself to wife and children in the seclusion of the Zenana.
he between them. In addition to the gardens and houses .him. threatening was asked by the local This he did their differences authorities to arbitrate between them. in is Dacca which entirely a Shia institu- This thies and but one instance of his wide sympaliberal-mindedness. His private benefactions to such as these will never *be known. In Dacca and throughout his extensive estates he was universally beloved. he did not hesitate to maintain at great expense the largest is Imambara tion. an old city which had itself suffered decay. he evinced a special sympathy. both public and private were on a most generous scale. Dacca in particular fine owed much to . held a large number. No tale of distress or scarcity coming from any part of Eastern Bengal ever met with an unsympathetic reception from him. So great was his influence with both Sunnis and Shias that serious difference occurred when a to lead to open mutiny. When famine or cyclone had done their worst he was always prompt to relieve distress by every generous means in his power. speedily healed. Of the wealth that had come to him . He spent large sums on sacred shrines in and around Dacca. with such success that were For those respectable Muhammadans who had fallen on evil days and of whom Dacca.stinting in such abundance he gave with no hand.NAWAB The charities of SIR ABDUL GHANI 181 the Nawab. and although himself a staunch Sunni.
182 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL which he freely opened to the public. yet honours necessarily came in full measure. year later he was given the title of Nawab as a an honour which was made later personal distinction.. him the Beginning early as an Honorary of Magistrate he was appointed a member Bengal Legislative Council in 1866. was all he desired. Created Companion of the Order of the Star of India in 1871. he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India. In the following year he was made an additional member of the Viceroy's Legislative fell Council. in the daily routine of his his life in Dacca he was content : To live among own people. two and a half Intended as a thank offering for the recovery of the Prince of Wales from his laid severe illness in.. . the foundation stone was by the Viceroy They were finally opened for use by the Commissioner of the Division in 1878. hereditary two years on the occasion of the Pro- clamation of the Queen-Empress. In planning such works of improvement as this and Lcrd Northbrook in 1874. doing his duty by all those whose fortunes were so largely committed to his charge. he was specially presented to the Prince of Wales A by Lord Northbrook and awarded a medal in 1874. 1871. From that time a- onward honours thick upon him. In 1886. No man could have sought honours less than Nawab to Abdul Ghani. the greatest service that he rendered to the town was the construction of water works at a cost of lacs.
A keen business- of others. content to live in the midst of his own people and with an ear always open. full of years all and honour. to their petitions and complaints. loved and respected by who knew him. In 1896 Nawab Abdul Ghani his long life died.NAWAB SIR ABDUL GHANI 183 For many years before his death he had given over the management of his estates to his eldest son. . he had been consistently Throughout loyal both to the British Government and to the interests of his own community. man. he never aggrandised himself at the expense His sympathies were wide and generous in vain. and no deserving case was ever brought to his notice He was one of the best types of Zemindars that Bengal had produced. His will always remain one of the greatest and grandest figures in Eastern Bengal in the nineteenth century. known later as the Nawab Sir Khawja Ahsanulla whom who he had carefully trained as his successor and so worthily followed in his father's footsteps.
Maharaja Durga Charan Law .
however. left the village reason. How long the firm in It iamily continued to reside here and of when the Prawn Kissen Law was first established Calcutta cannot now be definitely ascertained.E.I. 18221902 AMONG name rank. and its wonderful success from its first small beginnings is one of the most typical signs of the awakening of Bengal in the nineteenth century. small village in the it District of Burdwan. The ancestors earliest period of is of the Law now a family lived. In those days was a place it of considerable importance. at the which definite knowledge of them obtainable. at Barsul. containing the residences of several wealthy families who only deserted on account of the inroads of the Mahrattas during the early years of the eighteenth century. of Indian merchant princes in Bengal the Maharaja Durga Charan Law takes high started firms The firm first by to his father was one business of the Indian conduct on English lines. must. Rajib Lachan for this Law.MAHARAJA DURGA CHARAN LAW C. the grandfather of the Maharaja. and came to reside at Chinsura which was then a Dutch settlement. have been early in the nineteenth century. since the firm had already obtained pro- .
The first Indian community. among the front rank of Indian merchant . was at slow to take advantage o'f the opportunity and to Prawn Kissen Law belongs the credit of being among thefirst to see the great possibilities that were opening. however. all the European Companies which had found their way to India had come in the first instance solely in pursuit of trade and during their first years of commercial activity no Indian firm had ventured to compete with them on their own lines. Prawn Kissen was Almost one of the pioneers of the Indian commercial world. Durga Charan was the eldest son of Prawn Kissen Law. more open conditions prevailed. His firm. placing him and his descendants princes. out before his fellow-countrymen in the way of trade and commerce under the new reign of peace.186 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL minence by the time that the future Maharaja first joined it as an assistant in 1839. order and security. one of the first to compete seriously with European firms was also one of the most successful. the is original founder of the firm which century known by his still after nearly a name. and it became possible for Indian firms to enter into competition with the their methods English merchants by adopting and standards of business. But as the English gradually emerged triumphantly from the long struggle of the eighteenth century and trade was ceasing to be the first object of the Company.
With true wis- dom. Durga Charan at once exhibited business capacities that delighted and promised well for the future of" the firm which was yearly growing in importance. learning every detail of the business and working his way up through by the various offices until he was fitted experience to take the lead. which was started in exertions of David Hare. heshowed the greatest application and an eager desireto acquire a sound knowledge of business principles. Ram Mohan Roy and others. and with their help during the years that followed. Leaving college while in his seventeenth year Durga Charan his father's office to be- was at once inducted into initiated into mercantile affairs. . he he apply himself that on his was fully competent to him undertake the entire management of the firm. his father's heart Rapidly mastering the routine of the office. Prawn Kissen insisted that his son should begin at the lowest rung of the ladder as an assistant. through Hindu the College.MAHARAJA DURGA CHARAN LAW 187 Durga Charan Law was born on the 23rd of November 1822 at Chinsura. From the first he was destined by his father to succeed him as head of the firm which he of had founded and which already gave promise its ultimate still remarkable success. Receiving his early training at the 1817. With in the business were associated his two younger brothers Sham Charan Law and Joy Govind Law. and to such effect did father's death in 1853. was then the principal college in Bengal.
Manchester and Glasgow while in Calcutta it acted as banian to no fewer than ten European firms. It was this reputation which the firm early acquired that enabled it to win the respect and inspire the confidence of the Indian and European had shown communities spirit alike. sugar. hides. scale. paints. From a century personal and complete the outset of his career Durga Charan and business not only industry but a high sense of commercial integrity capacity and honour. linseed and seed. yarns. on all the social and Government was not political questions of the day. As its that directed its head and as the moving policy and its great life. um- brellas. transactions all were on an immense it In almost kinds of imports had dealings. woollen goods. corrugated iron sheets. tea. undertakings. the public service. musk. Liverpool. Such was the enormous.agents in London. but. indigo. wheat. Among poppy its exports were. by all classes. with occasional shipments of opium to Hongkong. cotton. Durga Charan into prominence in Calcutta Law came rapidly He was consulted so not only on commercial matters. business over which Durga Charan Law exercised for nearly half control. molasses.188 lie TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL succeeded in greatly extending the operations of Its the firm. great were his interests. The firm had . prints. iron. huge quantities of piece goods. asphalts its and cements passing through hands every year. copper. slow to recognise his ability and his usefulness in He was the first Indian to be .
in recognition him by Government of the services he had rendered. while later came the honour of nomination to the Bengal Legislative Council.of Calcutta. appointed a Justice of the Peace for the town of Calcutta and an Honorary He was Presidency Magistrate early in his career. and the many other honours and distinctions of all kinds that came to him in rapid succession showed the esteem in which he was held by all classes of the community. These high honours and show not only in what high esteem Durga Gharan Law was held but the varied interests and offices activities which he contrived to combine with the of a large management His and successful business. that of the of the first Companionship conferred upon of the Order Indian Empire. In the following Raja year he was again appointed a member of the Supreme Legislative Council and in 1891 he was created a Maharaja. In the same year he sat on the Commission appointas Sheriff Calcutta. of the Senate of office He was also elected a member the Calcutta University and held of being appointed a member pi the Supreme Legislative Council in 1882. unbounded. ed for the reduction years later came the t5f the Public Debt while two titular honour. of the On the occasion Jubilee of the Queen-Empress the title of was bestowed upon him.MAHARAJA DURGA CHARAN LAW 189- appointed a Port Commissioner . Possessed to place it charities were of immense wealth he was always ready at .
In Calcutta he took a prominent part in the great charitable and philanthropic movements and financial support. his sub- scriptions at various times amounted to large sums. His private charities of were very numerous. of the day. Among those acquired by the Maharaja . after him in memory to his liberal one of the Wards being named endowments. To the Calcutta University he gave the handsome donation of fifty thousand rupees to form a fund for the creation of scholarships in various schools and colleges -Charitable Association throughout Bengal. He was a Governor of the Mayo Hospital to which he :also largely contributed.190 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL the disposal of -every good cause. To the District and the Suvarna Banik Charit- able Association of which he was President. of the largest landholders He possessed estates in several districts landlord. solicitous of the wel- Many of his estates he personally placing acquired at auction and saved from ruin. a large number his schools and hospitals throughout all extensive estates being entirely maintained by him. no scheme of public utility failing to receive his hearty sympathy The Maharaja was one in Bengal. The history of some of these estates furnishes a romantic record of the advancement of civilisation an Bengal. firm and in all of them he proved a model and businesslike and heartily fare of his tenants. In support of education and in the relief of suffering his purse was always open. them by capable management on a sound and stable basis.
So far the Sundarbans had proved nothing but the graves of men and of all their hopes of fortune. of . Great efforts had at various times been made to bring it under cultivation. but Government had itself attempted the Herculean task. fever was prevalent while the loneliness of the life. the difficulties had always proved insuperable. Hitherto. and forest at the head of the Not only had individuals set forth into the unknown wilds of these immense forest tracks in the hope of reclaiming them and deriving from them wealth and fortune. and by sheer force of character and energy to clear the splendid estate which was eventually to pass into the hands Maharaja Durga Gharan Law. and the fear off of wild animals which constantly carried the ryots as they cut down earliest possible the jungle. Labour had all to be imported and when at length the labourers had been safely conveyed there at much expense. induced them to escape at the moment. None had succeeded in the fight with nature and tamed its rampant luxuriance to any great extent the dull routine of cultivation. The land being everywhere lowlying and malarious. immense tract of of Bengal Bay which so long defied all reclamation.MAHARAJA DURGA CHARAN LAW none gunj river is 191 of greater interest than the estate that of Morrel- in the Sundarbatid. But in one corner of the vast area it was reserved for an English family to do. it had been found difficult to prevail upon them to stay. however. what others had failed to do.
were live in their forced to boats until sufficient space had been shelters. who had been a Captain in a British Regiment. came forward to take settlement in the name of her three sons.. old Mrs. II. they fixed upon the most suitable There was then nothing site for their head-quarters. William and Henry at once to undertake personally the from Calcutta work of cultivation. but impenetrable forest. In spite of his efforts he had been unable to overcome the initial difficulties of cultivation in the- Sundarbans and only 800 bighas had been reclaimed on the expiry of the time allowed. An English woman. Arriving after a seven days' journey in country boats. Morrel. offering named Mrs.192 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL and Lords The Sundarbans had been divided by Government into lots with a view to reclamation I. cleared whereon to erect temporary It was a splendid position that they Morelgunj selected where now stands. Government therefore issued a fresh notice to resettle the remaining a widow portion of the Lots. the anchorage in the broad . and in 1857 Government settled the Lots with them for a period of 99 years. Morrel in spite of her advanced age accompanying them. III and IV had been settled with one Babu Kalinath Taki for a period of 99 years. The three brothers set out Robert. and the Morrels and the men they had brought with them. the only stipulation being that he should bring under cultivation a Koy of certain portion of the land within a fixed period.
which was then a subdivision of Jessore.MAHARAJA DURGA CHARAN LAW river that washes its banksl[being so 193 commodious that the place was later on declared a port in the hope that the largest steamers might visit it. 13 . Far away from the magisterial head-quarters at Khulna. For themselves the Morrels constructed a fine house with large gardens close by the river bank. of other adjoining his Robert Morrel lands from government O until estate reached to the sea extended over an immense area. and cut off from easy Access jungle. and leading to the bazaar which quickly cultivation extended. hundreds of ryots hastened to the spot and eagerly took up land to clear and cultivate. as the limits of Within ten years no less than four thousand bighas had been cleared and as Tumours cleared of the extraordinary fertility of the soil newly neighbouring districts. It was not long before practically the whole of the four lots was reclaimed. the remainder by Talukdars to reached the whom his they had given settlement leases. by a network interference in of rivers and impenetrable of the Morrels were wellnigh independent of their outside control the large O and flourishing tract which they had brought into -existence. sprang up with a thriving mart. With the success of enterprise took apparently assured. while a splendid avenue was opened out parallel with the river. a large portion of them by the Morrels themselves.
had indeed been going badly in Many of the tenants had abandoned and much of the land their holdings which he had brought under cultivation was lying fallow. With lost characteristic energy he set to work to regain. leaving the good and an agent Troubles which threatened his brothers in charge of his affairs. and in places rapidly falling back again into jungle. Morelgunj. An erected at Morrelgunj his tenants . Hearing of these unfortunate occurrences Robert Morrel. but in the midst of his labours he died at Barisal on the 13th of obelisk May by 1869.194 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL largely How was seen the prosperity of Morelgunj of was due to the tact as and energy Robert Morrel himself soon as his presence was withdrawn. to undo all work he had done speedily occurred ture. More unfortunate attracted many of the tenants who had been by the fertility of the soil were frightened away by these disputes. ground and to put things once more upon a satisfactory footing. in spite of returned to he health. His health had been seriously impaired by his great exertions in bringing the estate under cultivation and he finally decided to retire to England. There affairs ill found that his absence. after his depar- between his agent and a dispute neighbouring Zemindar which not only brought the arose estate in A former into trouble with the authorities but involved the long and costly still litigation in the Courts. which had more than once led to bloodshed.
The Dispensary and the schools are still maintained entirely at their for expense. excavating tanks. establishing hats. the last survivor of the three brothers. mak- ing roads. Unable to satisfy his creditors. four Lots. carried their enterprise. while their all tenants look to them almost their needs. Under his and control. cutting canals. It possesses a thriving . building schools and establishing a charitable Dispensary. greatly developing the properties. Here was an immense tract of feritle land already under cultivation with all the initial difficulties of labour and ^reclamation overcome. still Practically everything in Morrelgunj is done by the Maharaja's sons. The Morrels. managed. away by the initial success of had launched out into many un- necessary entravagances and the Maharaja with his keen business instinct only awaited the opportunity of getting possession of the estate to reduce it to order and make of it a splendid property.MAHAKAJA DUKGA CHARAN LAW testifies 195 how great was the affection and respect that he inspired. William. brother was forced to Law who estate III to Maharaja Durga Charan saw the great possibilities the quickly and econominally if offered judiciously II. * After his death the estate soon his became insolvent and mortgage Lots I. was finally forced to estate in 1878 sell the whole and all in the following year Durga Charan Law purchased management soon entered upon another period of prosMorrelgunj Under a capable manager he introduced order perity.
and most respected merchant princes . was never hasty in giving his opinion. His judgment consequently met with universal respect. The Maharaja died at the of eighty years in 1902. it is on the main steamer route from Calcutta to Eastern Bengal and Assam. and in the mercantile world his name was always synonymous with honesty and straightforward dealing. of the community. For some years before his death. lost He never.196 hat. failing health into the hands of so just prevented the Maharaja from taking his accustomed active part in public affairs. but he once given that opinion seldom proved wrong. his keen interest in all the current questions of the day and to the end he was consulted and on a variety of subjects his opinion sought classes by all A man of few words. one of the wealthiof Bengal. It was fortunate for Morrelgunj that it fell as and capable a Zemindar Maharaja Durga Charan Law. however. Though the strictness of his principles gave him a somewhat severe mein. He had a horror of falsehood or deceit in any shape or form. TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL and though cut off by land from other parts of the District by a network of rivers. those who knew him were quick to realise that under a harsh exterior he had a heart great age est of gold.
Nawab Bahadur Syed Walayet All Khan .
a generous famine and distress. 18181899 LOYAL promoter left in the helper in times of dark days of mutiny. who was a rich banker of Patna and his who like many another way from the north-west towards the fields for close of the Moghul Empire.I. seeking fresh His original in enterprise in Bengal.NAWAB BAHADUR SYED WALAYET ALI KHAN. He came of a Sayed family of considerable local portance. The story at one of consistent rectitude. of first was Patna on the 23rd that the future Nawab Bahadur September 1818 saw the light. Syed Walayet Ali Khan has alive for a memory that is still beyond the limits of his native city. he . claiming descent from Imam the 8th Imam.E. C. Coming to Patna with a considerable sum of money. Throughout his long life of over fourscore years he was universally beloved as one of the leaders j>f the Muhammadan community of his life is in Patna and Behar. imAli Reza. at home had been ancestors Karamanikpur Oudh and his had held honourable posts at the Moghal Court. was himself the son had found His father Syed Mehdi Ali Khan of Syed Abdulla Sahib. and an eager of learning. steadfast loyalty It and high endeavour.
three years before the birth of the subject of this memoir. acquiring large landed properties carrying on a banking business with eminent success. Nawab Syed Walayet Ali Khan thus came of stock which had done good . for many Deputy Governor of Behar in the time of the Emperor Shah Alum. Fakir- ud-dowlah had adopted his brother's grand-daughter. The third son was Fakir- Hafizun-nissa ud-dowlah Syed Najim Ali Khan Zafar Jung on whom the Pergana Japla in the district of Palamau was conferred as a revenue free gift in recognition of his services to the Moghul Empire. that the Nawab could claim his most distinguished descent. the "Seirul-Mutakerin" which throws so strong a light on the causes of the decay of the Moghul En%pire during the reigns of the last seven monarchs. The second son of Syed Ali Nawab Basher-ul-Mulk was Syed-ud-dowlah Khan Shumser Jung. It was on the maternal side. a grant which was confirmed by the East India Company on the 5th August. The latter had four sons years of whom the most distinguished was Nawab Syed Gholam Hosein Khan. the well known author of the famous history of the Moghul Court. however. Hafizun-nissa Begum who thus acquired by adoption a share in the property. Having no son. the grandfather of Begum. 1815. His father had married the Nawaba Hafizun-nissa Begum who herself was the great grand -daughter of Nawab Basher-ul-Mulk Asad Jung.200 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL and settled there.
and it was not long before he began to take an active interest in public affairs beyond the limits of his own Zemindaru Although unable to speak English. the first he was distinguished by his remarkable tact and winning manners. he early in life won the esteem of European officials. his own resources there. he quickly himself worthy of the trust that proved had been placed in Turning a deaf ear to all the temptations of youth he set himself diligently to master business methods and all the wT ork of an extensive Zeminadri with such success that he had the satisfaction of seeing the property enormously increase in value From under his personal supervision and management. and so well did he profit by the old man's teaching that at the early age of eighteen he was placed in charge of the family property in Tirhoot. Thrown largely upon him.SYED WALAYET ALI KHAN service to the state 201 and which in so doing had acquired little is considerable wealth and position. Of western methods in medical science and hygiene he was prosperity of his quick to see the advantage.the old school. Of the early years of the Nawab but recorded. The old saying that . who recognised in him one of the best types of the Muhammadan gentleman of. He was brought up under the immediate supervision of his grandfather Syed Abdullah. While remaining strictly orthodox he was eager to accept western ideas where they tended to the greater well-being and countrymen.
the second loyalty and practical assistance. one of my official "the following extracts from reports will show the opinions I held regarding his loyalty and the valuable assistance I had received from him during tha most "It is critical period of danger. city in Bengal.202 cleanliness TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL is next to godliness had in him a firm believer and in season and out of season he preached greater cleanliness and better sanitation as one of the chief needs of the day. more especially from . as being one of the first to see in what direction the true interests of his co- religionists first and fellow-countrymen lay. Syed Walayet Ali Khan's loyalty thus stands out all the more conspicuously. was looked upon disloyalty. that strong support and loyalty to the Government which they have since accorded. at that time as the centre of A large number of Muhammadans refusing British there hankered after the old regime. From the he followed his own convictions without thought of fear or favour." also gratifying to me I to be able at this time to record the assistance have received from several of the respectable native residents of Patna.among others. Walayet Ali . "With regard to of Khan." wrote the Commissioner time of Walayet Ali Patna at the the Mutiny. It was in the dark days of the mutiny that Syed Walayet AH Khan first came prominently forward and won golden opinions from government for his Patna.
Walayet All Khan has accordingly taken possession of an English house at the west end of the city near my compound and began living there day and night at a considerable scale of sacrifice to his life. he came to the front as a leader in every movement of social progress in Behar. is deserving of special recognition at the present time. at a very great risk to himself. Khan ness with which he has. ferreting^out bad characters. and from that day he has incessantly exerted himself in the cause of Government." after the "A few days news of the Mutiny reach- ed us. seeking for information. Of the Patna College. There was no public this spirited enterprise of any kind from which time forward with which his name was not associated. he presented to me a petition. that he showed his loyalty to the crown and his It earnest desire to serve his country. however.203 has been conspicuous from the very commencement of the disturbance and the bravery and frank. and has been in itself of great use. watching the city and obtaining good information through emissaries employed at^his expense from the neighbouring villages. stating that he was ready to devote life and property to the service of the state. now occupies so prominent a place among educational . At a time when their Muhammadan influence and education were at lowest ebb." was not only in time of emergency. cast his lot on the side of the authorities.
hospitals and dispensaries. however. The Temple Medical School. Lord Northbrook. all works of public gifts There are innumerable unrecorded to schools and colleges.204 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL in institutions Behar he was one of the chief promoters. mosques and public buildings. paid a visit to Behar and. clubs. In the cold weather of 1875-6 His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales paid his memorable India. In 1874. contributing no less than a lac of rupees to the relief funds and himself taking an active part in their distribution. During the famine of 1874. he consulted him in a long conversation concerning the condition of Behar. the Viceroy of India. relieve distress he took a prominent part in relieving the distress. are but a few and the best known instances of his generosity and the encouragement he gave to utility. named after the Lieutenant-Governor of the Behar School of Engineering also day and the met with his generous support. who took part in . These. He was ready to subscribe as generously to abroad as in Behar. that have been recorded form a long typical of the large-heartedness list and it was ness of the to his man and public spiritedthat his charities were not confined his own country and own co-religionists. visit to and among those invited to Calcutta to meet him was Syed Walayet AH Khan. to all Those donations of which he liberally subscribed. societies. granting Syed Walayet All Khan a private audience.
the Division at Sonepur on the In presenting to him the insignia of the order. the Commissioner paid this glowing tribute to his services 'Syed Walayet Ali Khan. His investiture took place at a Durbar held by the Commissioner of 13th of March. of the 1st of January 1878 came further recogni- The Companionship of the most Eminent Order the Indian Empire was conferred upon him on account of his prominent and devoted services rendered during the Mutiny and of his munificent liberality. Immediately afterwards he returned to Patna to receive His Royal Highness there also. A year later a certificate of honour was presented to him on the auspicious occasion of the assumption by the Queen of the title of of India. During the Mutiny you have eminently distinguished yourself by displaying remarkable and inflexible loyalty. being one of the few privately presented to the Prince during his visit. His Royal Highness received him most graciously. eulogising him for his past services and especially for his courage and loyalty during the Mutiny. "The proffer of . Your services during that crisis were invaluable Professions of loyalty are valuable in proportion as they are voluntary and timely and their sincerity is tested by acts. Empress On tion. you have always been a most devoted and loyal subject of Government.SYED WALAYET ALI KHAN all 205 the festivities of welcome as one of the leading of men Behar. 1878.
character has ever since been laudably maintained by you. "You have lity also been conspicuous in spiritedness. During the famine generosity. In any career of .206 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL services crisis Walayet Ali Khan's and most dangerous "This was made in our darkest and the proffer throughout was supported by deeds.000 Rs. His Honour in handing him the Sanad spoke as follows "Syed Walayet Ali Khan of It is at the instance His Excellency the Viceroy that I am present here to-day to confer upon you in this public Durbar the title and dignity of Nawab. in relieving the distressed people. your libera- and public having hitherto conlate tributed no less than Rs. at A special of Durbar was held Bankipur on the llth November 1882 by the Lieutenant-Governor Sir Rivers Thompson in order to invest him with the insignia of the new title.000 Rs. or 50. having unostentatiously spent about 40. 70.000 towards Charitable and Public Institutions. pleasure medium conveying to you token of royal favour and I sincerely hope that you may long enjoy the honour thus graciously conferred later on you. you exhibited marked Your services have now received the recognition of of Her Majesty the Queen -Empress to be the India and of it gives me great the." Only four years he received the title of Nawab as a personal distinction.
We may be sure that they could be no light services for which such accumulated honours of those were reserved. the highest reward which one can secure is the esteem and approbation of one's fellow-countrymen. and speaking in the presence who know you best. I believe that element of contemporary approval is not wanting in your own position but it is quite : fitting that where an eminent citizen has used un- ostentatiously and disinterestedly the wealth his hands have gained him. marks of distinction. both as a pleasure and privilege to confer upon you to-day the rank and title of Nawab. and now it devolves upon me.SYED WALAYET ALI KHAN life. 207 apart from the testimony of a good conscience. of Her Majesty's assumption of the title of Empress of India. note that at a more recent period you were of enrolled as a companion the Order of the Indian Empire. it This is not the first occasion upon receive at the which hands has fallen to your lot to of official authority the approval which liberal government I desires to express to a loyal and on the auspicious occasion subject. to advance the public good. you were one I of those who received a Certificate of Honour. among the natives who were selected for note that. that a man has striven honourably to do his duty. I indulge in neither extravagance nor flattery when I say that in view of the prominent and devoted services rendered by you during the . government should not be backward in recognising such efforts.
the bestowal of such titular distinctions as these brings honour alike to the government and to yourself. difficulty you the have shown reality in cases of danger and sincerity of that patriotism.208 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL Mutiny and your munificent liberalities for the good of your people and district. the undersigned presenting this address to residents of Patna. y I congratulate you therefore in the presence of this large and distinguished audience upon your accession to a dignity so well merited and I wish you sincerely many years of health and future usefulness in the enjoyment of the honour : which the Viceroy of India has confered upon you." On the occasion of his receiving the title of of Nawab. in seeing you deservedly honour- The benevolence which has distinguished your career has elicited from Government its due . his fellow-countrymen Patna both Hindu and Muhammadan presented him with an address on the 17th of April 1883 which forms a splendid tribute from those amongst whom he had lived and worked. in you only give expression to the sincere feeling of pleasure and satisfaction which we experience ed. and in times of peace and order you have proved that the responsibilities of wealth and lofty position have been rightly appreciated by you in the co-operation you have given to the advancement of every useful and good w ork. in this city as You and stand forward an example of loyal patriotism. It ran "We.
and throughout all. while it 209 conferred. "Believe us. and general political importance. and your name is known to fame even in the more distant parts of the world. matters of great individual.SYED WALAYET ALT KHAN recognition in the shape of honours this. so long back as the year 1856 when you made over to the Government a large and support of an Industrial and Agricultural School. wise critical time. escaped your notice and notably in the cause of education has your liberal hand been at work. moderation and unswerving loyalty that Patna owed Nor have its escape from overwhelming disaster. a scheme which we regret has not yet been carried into completion. and that serves to perpetuate the memory of benevolence. you are as thoroughly esteemed as you are widely known. and it was for this right loyal service at a most that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales perosnally thanked you. disinterestedly loyal. regardless of the extreme personal risk involv- ed . and again estate for the establishment 14 . furnishes a strong and lasting incentive to others to follow your philanthropic example. both for your moral worth and your kindly disposition. if of less . for it was admittedly owing in a great measure to your cool vigilance. social. "In the dreadful Mutiny of 1857 you consistently and firmly displayed to a just and watchful Government the pleasing spectacle of a subject unhesitatingly honest when his conscientious dissent was based upon personal experiences and peculiar means of knowledge.
TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL
to give a large donation for
the purpose of assisting the establishment of the Patna College, an institution that has steadily progressed, .and
of useful influence it is
hard to overestimate, and which can be compared only as to the good it has done with the Temple
Medical School, with which also you are identified by the large donation given by you at its institution in
These contributions, the
them, and the universal good that has resulted from them, are the results on which is based the gratitude
of the people of
famines Again India and in Ireland (your contribution aggregat-
in connection with the late
1,20,000) your subscription to
the fund for the
Afghan Campaign, your gifts to the Zoological Garden at Calcutta and the Mangles Tolah in this city, all witness how wide and how generous were your sympathies, how liberal and how universal your
"In the discharge of your duties as a Municipal Commissioner and as a member of different other
connected with the social and moral imof
the people of this city, you have shown private and selfish individual prejudices must
to yield to a sense of
to the public good.
SYED WALAYET ALI KHAN
presenting this address, allow us to express
the hope that you will continue to take the keen
you have hitherto done in the welfare of this and its inhabitants, and we sincerely trust that
prolong a life conspicuous for its energy in the cause of good and its activity in the cause of liberality and philanthroppy."
replied as follows
"GENTLEMEN, To-day my dearly beloved Hindu and Muhammadan fellow- citizens (whom I affectionately greet) have
both very happy and
very proud happy that you approve of what I have done, in the belief that I was doing right, and proud in that I have gained your esteem and your
me, I am keenly and deeply honour you have now conferred on sensible of the me by the address you have just presented to me, and that the pleasing memory of it will remain
recollection as long as
highly the poor services that I have been able to render, and I attribute the high praise that you
pleased to accord to
to the liberality
Government marking their sense of them and to the kindly sentiments you entertain towards
me, than to the inherent value of the services
have been enabled to do on the occasions of public calamity and disturbance, and in the cause of
TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL
regard it in the one case as other as the expenditure of a
duty, and in the
Capital to securein the vernacular
a great amount
in a big mouth').
Gentlemen, do not
if I say that the money which has been spent in connection with the presentation of this address might have been productive of some
made me very happy,
not deny that you have this day while you have nevertheless
be spared to enjoy every May you and prosperity that I sincerely reward
wish you, and
be spared to witness such a
of a life acceptable to
in the sight of God.
Again, gentlemen, I heartily
The very great popularity of the Nawab among and non-officials, among Hindus and Muhamalike
gratulatory letters that
was evidenced by the number of conpoured in upon him on the
exception placed entire confidence in
matters relating to Behar
and the Muhammadan community.
Ashley Eden, Lieutenant-Governor, honoured him on several
his visit to
Patna in 1880 finding that he was too
SYED WALAYET ALI KHAN
respects to him,
paid him the compliment of
ing upon him to enquire after his health. On two other occasions he had the rare honour of receiving a
from a Lieutenant-Governor at
In 1889 he received a
Bayley, he was visited
the highest to
the lowest in the land the straightforwardness of his
character, his personal disinterestedness
At a time
when he might
templated withdrawal from public duties to enjoy a well-earned leisure, the Nawab was ever ready to
incur fresh responsibilities in a good
of public offices that
he held makes a long
years an Honorary Magistrate,
Municipal Commissioner, and a
Board as well as
He was an
the British Indian Association, of the
Imperial Institute in India, a Vice-Patron of the Lady DufEerin Fund,
the Zoological Gardens and of
the Agricultural-Horticultural Society of India at Calcutta. He was also at one time President of
the Behar Text-Book Committee.
All these offices
were to him no mere sinecures.
forward his best
In each he put 9
TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL
and endeavouring to make a success
On January, 1st
1896 came the
He was now
and the bestowal
Nawab Bahadur came
as a fitting close to the long honours and distinctions that had been con-
upon him. Once more the heartiest congratucame from all sides and the Hindu and
residents of Patna again presented him with an address expressive of the affection and esteem in which he was universally held.
The Nawab Bahadur lived only three years to enjoy his latest honour. He had lived a long and
mental to the
using his energies both physical and full in the casue of progress, never
sparing himself in his devotion to his Queen and
January 1899 of his only son Syed Tajamul Hussain Khan, who promised worthily to follow in his father's footsteps was a
severe blow from which he never fully recovered.
gradually sank and died five months later on
June 3rd 1899.
Perhaps no funeral has ever so stirred Patna or given occasion for such an outburst of popular feeling
as that of the
doubt as to the esteem and affection
which he was held, the crowds who flocked to do him this last honour would have been sufficient
215 Among t those who followed his remains to of the grave were the Commissioner the Patna Division and the Collector of Patna. His memory long survive fill and it will be difficult for many years to less his place. "I have heard with the most profound wrote the Commissioner. He has gone full of years. "I have received with great the news of the death of my honoured friend the grandfather. Your grandfather had been the trusted friend of all the officials for nearly half a century and his death will be a serious loss to Government as well as to the many friends he in this country. your illustrious For upwards of seven years that I have known Patna I have been indebted to him for advice and assistance and for a kind and continued friendship.SYED WALAYET ALI KHAN proof. It will be many years before his place will be filled and we see the like of . Nawab Bahadur. wisdom and honour. which has been one of the things I have been most proud of in my service. not long surviving the son to whom he was so deeply attached. both of whom wrote letters of condolence to his grandson in terms that showed the high respect in which they held him. The public has numbered among the Europeans lost a trusted and will recognised leader. this morning and beg you . "the sad news of regret. esteemed friend." the death of your illustrious grandfather. my to accept my most sincere sympathy in this sad event." The Collector wrote in no just appreciative langrief guage.
and the building that whose honour it was a fitting memorial. 1899. In strengthening the loyalty of his co-religionists. this The offices of the Commissioner and my own his have been closed as a mark of respect.Government and the cause of law and order a prominent supporter. resulted in from all sources. and subscriptions were invited for the They flowed Europeans and Indians purpose.is memory of Mm in was and will not. the neighbourhood were It was resolved to raise funds to add a of men wing to the Muhammadan Anglo-Arabic school to bear his name. throughout his long life which covered nearly the whole of the century. from alike. a tablet perpetuat- ing the raised. memory of the Nawab Bahadur influence for good that.216 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL again. ." To devise means to commemorate memory a public meeting was held in Patna on the 2nd July. It. I beg you to accept the assurance^of my deepest sympathy and condolence Commissioner and myself funeral. however. It was presided over by the Commissioner and all the leading present. join The the will come and We accept of mark opportunity of showing respect to our departed friend. him The Muhammadan nobles and the^ of Patna have lost a recognised leader . he exercised over the fortunes of his The fellow-countrymen is a more enduring monument. in memorials of brick stone that the chiefly live. this last in your sorrow.
he consistently showed them the better way of loyalty and high endeavour. in promoting every social and educa- the day that tended towards tional movement the general advancement and prosperity of the people. and in them one of lie his claims figures to be regarded the as the greatest in among Muhammadan community Bengal in the nineteenth century. were neither in the mood nor had the equipment wherewith to play a leading part in public life. moral and educational advancement. His own success in public life occupy in the opinion of all and the honoured position he rose to who knew him were them- selves sufficient proof of the wisdom of his teaching. the strong and courageous figure of the Nawab Bahadur was a tower of strength to his co-religionists. It is to the lasting credit of the Nawab Bahadur that.SYED WALAYET ALI KHAN in setting 217 them an example of of straightforwardness and rectitude. not yet in the earlier days nineteenth century fully reconciled to British supremacy and not yet recovered from the period of decadence into which they had fallen in the last days of the Moghul Empire. his chief work lay. beginning in their darkest days. . and might well serve as an example to inspire each -one of his co-religionists to follow in his steps. of The Muhamof madans the Behar. -all At a time when was change and uncertainty. when the people of Bengal after long years of oppression and unrest had at length time and opportunity for social.
Maharaja Sir Jotindra Mohan Tag-ore .
For over at tall years. An acknowledged leader of the in all the great fifty Hindu community. "He combined the polished politeness of the old school with the educational accomplish- ments of the new.S.I MOHAN TAGORE. mentally or morally that did not meet with his ready sympathy and support. 18311908. wellnigh every public gathe^ng in Calcutta his upright figure and dignified bearing won universal admiration and respect. There was of the con- no scheme tending to the improvement ditions of his fellow-countrymen physically. he played a foremost part movements of the day. gave it as his firm conviction that "there is no more loyal or enlightened subject in Her Majesty's dominions.' Sir Jotindra came of a family remarkable alike for its long won by so descent and for the high distinctions many of its members. THERE was no prominent in Indian society in or honoured figure of* Bengal during the latter half the nineteenth century than that of Maharaja Sir Jotindra Mohan Tagore.C.MAHARAJA SIR JOTINDRA K. speaking in the House of Lords. Few other families . while Lord Roberts." wrote Sir Richard Temple.
The fortunes. that Panchanana was to prove fortunate for his family in the next generation. Here he first came into close contact with the English and. its wealth and its the first generations in Jessore. he secured the appointment of amin It of the 24-Perganas for his son JToyram Tagore. the family position. was in Govindpur. all their posses- sions being lost during the Mussulman occupation . Brahminism From the earliest days of recorded history. it claims descent from one of the five Brahmin priests whom that king sent for from Kanouj to restore in Bengal. famed for its has held a prominent learning. was a responsible and important post in those days. eager to obtain the advantages that close association with them promised. to take up his permanent residence on the Settled for many banks of the Hooghly was Panchanana. Tracing back its origin to the legendary days of King Adisur. one of the villages destined of settled. which descendants in its corrupted form It Tagore have ever since continued to bear. integrity. involving the conduction of all the settlement operations in the district as well as the collection Calcutta by whelm the rising family capture of Seraj-ud-dowlah threatened to overof the revenue.220 in TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL Bengal can show so long and distinguished a record of public usefulness and benevolence. who was his also the first of his family to receive the title of Thakur. a choice of domicile that later to develop into the great city of Calcutta.
The Company now purchased price the land at a considerably enhanced from his son Joyram who reaped further with the building profit from his association of the Fort. The site by the Company for the new Fort included part of the land which Panchanana had purchased at Gobindpur on his first arrival and whereon he had erected his family house and temple. His sons Darpa Narain and Nilmoni Tagore early acquired wealth and distinction.. MOHAN TAGORE 221 With the restoration of the English. better days soon dawned again. selected however. Nilmoni Tagore was the grandfather in that great reformer's of Dwarkanath Tagore who was so closely associated with Ram Mohan Roy for schemes the is career regeneration Bengal. the latter as sheristadar of the Magistrate's Court at Alipore.SIR JOTINDRA of the city. the former through successful mercantile enterprises. he carried same time an extensive commercial agency. one of the romances of the Rennaissance Starting life of Dwarkanath's of Bengal. as Joyram Tagore who may thus be looked upon the modern founder of the family died in 1762. since that date his descendants and have without a break continued to hold a prominent position in Bengal. both to relinquishing enter government service and acting for six years as sheristadar to- . The new dwelling-house and bathing ghat which he built for himself at Pathuria Ghatta still remainsin the possessions of his descendants to-day. on' at the finally as a law agent.
being connected with almost every public society in Calcutta. establishing the firm of Carr Tagore & Co.I. Civil name he Service. was the loyal associate of his brother Dwarkanath Tagore in all his enterprises. he held that post with honour and distinction for many 1834. he was for long one of the most prominent and respected men to the in Bengal. have sprung others of the name no less worthy . from whom Sir Jotindra himself was descended. leading friend Zemindar of in half districts. literary. bringing fresh His grandson Satyendranath Tagore had the distinction of being tlje first Indian to pass the competitive examination for the Indian bore. being one of the first Indian gentlemen in to enter into mercantile business in Calcutta on the European model.. the Joyram Tagore. scientific and charitable. His whole career was one of public usefulness and benevolence.222 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL the Collector of the 24-Parganas. years. William Prinsep.S. elder son of From Darpa Narayan. he entered into partnership with Mr. the Ram Mohan Ray of scheme advancement and a keen supporter of every and every institution destined to promote the welfare of the Hindu Comhonour munity. Promoted to be Dewan to the Board of Revenue. establishment of Associated with others a the the a Union dozen Bank. retiring from Government service in Once more drawn towards commercial enterprises. William Carr and Mr. Maharaja Ramnath Tagore C.
Dinajpur and Jessore. Like so many members of his family he was a learned Sanskrit scholar and devoted to music. Educated at Mr. Sherbourne's well-known school in Calcutta and later at the Hindu College. Tagore's Darpa Narayan most successful ventures had been the One of purchase at auction of part of the immense estates of the Raja of Rajshahi. his jewelled paridan and hookah alone being worth that sum. extending in area to some 249 square miles. One of his six sons was the famous Pra- sanna Kumar Tagore. By his dignity. losses in business induced enrolled as a Pleader. His son Gopi Mohan inherited his father's business instincts and added to the splendid by yet further purchases in Rajshahi.of their great traditions. him to get himself a profound knowledge of To Law. maintained the public-spirited He worthily of traditions his all family. over twenty thousand pounds a He played a leading part in founding the . ability and character he did much and to raise the legal profession in public estimation so great was his practice that of he is said to have made an income year. being a liberal patron of the arts and of branches of learning. His wealth increased so rapidly under his able management that he was estate he inherited regarded as one of the richest men in Bengal. and it was said of him that he never sat down without a lac of rupees beside him. he united strong common sense and a keen sagacity that quickly secured him the first position at the Bar.
he more famous life. Jotindra Mohan was born in Calcutta in 1831. On the formation of the Legislative Council of the Governor-General in 1854 he was appointed clerk assistant and of the Legislative Council itself. his Huro Kumar Tagore.224 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL Bengal Landowner's Society in 1838 and was elected President of the British Indian Association on its inauguration in 1857. he is was able to converse in it fluently. memory they among the most learned Pandits day for the best commemorative verses sent Huro Kumar annonymously sent in some verses that he had himself composed and these were at once the greatest Sanskrit scholars of the day had competed. figured but little in public Devoted was not only its liberal patron but was- himself no mean performer. unlike to music. He died in 1858 and so well had he managed the family adjudged the best although many of inheritance to his sons Jotindra property that he was able to hand on a splendid Mohan and Sourindra Mohan. . later a member Huro He bequeathed the half of his immense wealth to his brother Kumar Tagore. brother. There a story told of him that when he and all his brother wished to raise a tablet to his father's offered a prize of the in. who were themselves worthily to uphold the great traditions of their house. even in a family noted for its scholarship. He was not only able to write with ease and literary grace. the father of Sir Jotindra. As a Sanskrit scholar he excelled.
his charity and the sincerity of his life ples of all that is most striking exambest in Hinduism. fellow-students for his distinguished application among and ability. a language he always venerated as the guardian of the written tenets His modern studies. the distinguished scholar and writer. From so the he was keenly interested in that concerned education. first In his younger days. Richardson. many members of his The great cause which house had ardently chamless 'pioned found in him a no keen supporter. Jotindra Mohan always by one of the retained his ortho- dox beliefs. Brought up under strictly orthodox influences. many public duties occupied all of considerable literary he gave evidence ability. of kept place with his classical learning and from the he had a perfect command of English. L. and many contributions to various papers 15 . his faith. before the management of a great estate and his time. Following the family tradition. Leaving the college when seventeen years old he finished his English education under the tuition of Captain D. he had early acquired proficiency in Sanskrit. his wide sympathy and his intense humanity was typical first awakening all that had come to Bengal. at the same time of the that his broadmindedness. furnishing his piety.SIR JOTINDRA MOHAN TAGORE Hindu for nine years 225 He was entered as a student at the College at the early age of eight and he conhis tinued his studies there. however.
attention to stage Here he had the assistance of his younger brother Raja Sourindra Nath Tagore whose investigation into the theory of Hindu music have won him such a world-wide such unprecedented honours from Hindu music. like dramatic art. survive to attest his ability and grace of diction. One better his of his was the to Bidya set Sundara most famous plays which did Natak. well-nigh every country in the world. and not only in prose but in verse. had suffered eclipse during the reputation and troublous years of the eighteenth century and a . At house at Maharaja organised theatrical entertainments on a elaborate scale. his At the same time he turned music. and it was the Sir Jotindra's level endeavour to raise the stage to a higher excellence of of and to improve character the dramas acted. and by providing refined and clever plays and competent actors he succeeded in infusing a healthier moral and artistic tone into modern Bengali dramatic art. To the Provakar and the Literary Gazette he was a frequent contributor on a variety of subjects. His best-remembered literary are his productions in Bengali however. much a standard among Bengali Belgachhia the compositions. dramas and farces The had which attained considerable popularity. literary and political.226 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL journals. social. like art almost dramatic other every first branch of art in the half of the 19th century fallen on' ''evil days.
great further career added to lay rich wealth. must assuredly have come to the man ease to whom it might well have seemed that there was nothing else left to strive for. Succeeding his father in 158. But voluntarily and whole-heartedly Jotindra Mohan set himself worthily to carry on the great traditions of his house and to fulfil the great responsibilities that his exceptional position entailed. MOHAN TAGORE new system of 227 field was open to enthusiastic musical revivaldeveloping a By concerted music. . the From the he resolutely innumerable temptations that his great possessions Inducements to inevitably brought with them. the bearer of an honoured name and the head immense possibilities first of a distinguished opened thrust out before aside him. beyond house. his who predeceased him. he found himself most splendid in at the age of twenty-seven in possession of one of the inheritances to which any Bengal has succeeded in modern times. Eight years later the death of his uncle Prasanna Kumar Tagore. by examining the different theories of music and by comparing English and Indian methods. to self-indulgence and personal enjoyment. who had bequeathed the young man bulk of his vast property still to his brother. Devoted to and art. the dreams of avarice.SIR JOTINDRA wide ists. and indolence. A splendid literature before him. he set Hindu music on a sounder and higher basis.
Orissa and Midnapore.228 TWELVE MEN The no than OF" BENGAL province. largest land-owner in the in less property eighteen districts owning and numbering some six hundred thousand souls among his tenants. The area affected w as some twelve thousand square miles with a T population of four million souls. With no previous experience of famine on so extensive a scale and unware that the drought of the previous year- would have supply. and it is estimated that something like a quarter of this number perished. Jotindra Mohan first came prominently In into public notice during the famine of 1866. is once the true facts of the case were known. With no organised of famine relief and hampered by lack of means of speedy communication and transit. relieve How loyally the local officers distress worked to of this terrible the reports the Commissioners appointed later to enquire into the cause of the famine prove. the starvation had overtaken thousands of the unfortunate measures ' people before relief could come. the distress proved more severe than any yet with the It British Government of had had was one the greatest catastrophes of the century in Bengal. while so eager was Government to come to the assistance of the people. Zemindaries. so disastrous an effect upon the grain unprepared to Government was utterly meet the calamity that faced it during the hot weather months of 1866. shown . where he held extensive which to deal.
SIR JOTINDRA by its MOHAN TAGORE less 229 importation of no rice. than forty thousand of scarcely half." he wrote in making the recommendation. From appointed this time onwards Jotindra figured largely in the public eye. tons of of which even the most generous distribution It was unable to dispose was the scale first great natural calamity on such a with which the British Government had had to it deal and bitter as the experience was led to the organised measures of famine relief which have coped so effectively with similar calamities in more recent times. and is held by unexcepa useful his fellowis countrymen in the highest respect. He is one of is the of leading members of the native tional private character community. of mark of distinction "Babu Jotindra Mohan for is his a man great enlightenment.year who in the following of India recommended him some to the Government as deserving valuable services.and takes a deep and thoughtful interest in the of the country. He member progress of the Council of the Lieutenant-Governor . "and has had a thoroughly good English education. Throughout all the anxious days of 1866 Jotindra Mohan loyally supported every scheme of Government relief and himself took energetic personal measures to lessen the distress among his -own tenants. He has always been . Mohan Tagore In 1870 he was Legislative a member of the Bengal Council by Sir William Grey .
I feel a peculiar pleasure in being thus the channel of conveying the honour to you. him in equally apprecia- "I have the honour to convey to you. literature and has helped to promote science and amongst his countrymen by large ' regularly maintains eighteen poor students in Calcutta. who had succeeded Sir William Grey as Lieutenant-Governor in conferring the honour upon him in a Durbar held at Belvedere spoke of tive terms.230 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL found ready to contribute liberally to schools. "the high honour which His Excellency the Viceroy." he said turning to the newly -made Raja Bahadur. I a family great in the annals may say great in the annals of the British dominions in India." In title consequence of this recommendation the of March Raja Bahadur was conferred upon him in 1871. has been pleased to confer upon you. conspicuous for loyalty to the British Government and for acts of beneficence. public . He of 1866. roads and other objects of public interest. both in Calcutta and in the districts in which his estates are situated. Sir George Campbell. as the representative of Queen Victoria. and he fully accepted the obligations of his position in the famine contributions to that end. remitting the rents of his ryots and feeding 250 paupers daily in Calcutta for a period of three months. "You come from of Calcutta.
" he wrote. 'I have had the pleasure of receiving your assis- tance as a member which of the Bengal -Council. high character and the services you have rendered to the state deserve a fitting recognition. loyal and courteous Later in the same year.SIR JOTINDRA 'But it is MOHAN TAGORE 231 not from considerations of your family alone that the Viceroy has been pleased to confer the high honour upon you. self worthy of it You have proved own merits. Your by your your-. great intelligence and ability. opinion will man and man : and when you have chanced yours has been an intelligent. I have felt your support to be of the utmost value. distinguished public spirit. true we have had of and honest differences always prevail between but at the same time I can honestly tell you that when we have been on the same side. "and I have much confidence that you are a man not bound to class interests but prepared to look to the good of . opposition. Sir George Campbell wrote asking him to allow himself to be nominated for a further term of office as member of the Legislative fair Council. to and can assure you that I highly appreciate the ability and ita information deliberations. you bring bear upon able to is me Indeed nothing can be more acceptthan advice from one like yourself.' to be in opposition. It occasion to differ. of dealing "Your with all high character and mode questions render your assistance especially valuable.
and I must add with equal good feeling and moderation. In the same year he was appointed a member of the Legislative Majesty Council of the Governor-General." he said when speaking in the Council. His opinion often decided the fate of a proposed clause in the Bill and Sir A. In discussions of many of the most important measures of the day he took a prominent part.232 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL the whole community. The Civil Procedure Code was then under the considera- tion of the Legislative Council and the criticisms of one who knew Indian conditions and Indian needs so thoroughly as Maharaja Jotindra Mohan Tagore were listened to with consideration and respect. Hobhouse. and office to which the he was reappointed again in 1879 and in 1881." Later. help "Whatever can be said on that subject will be of by my friend Maharaja Jotindra Mohan Tagore. IV. "If the clause stood as in Bill No." About the same time the Raja Bahadur was exempted from appearance in the Civil Courts and in 1877 on the assumption of the Imperial title by Her Queen Victoria the higher dignity of Maharaja was conferred upon him. high and low alike. I confess I should not be able to maintain my ground against such an . in speaking of a much discussed clause he added. "for in comsaid mittee he has supported the views of the objectors with great ability and acuteness. generously acknowledged the he had received from his criticisms and advice. the Legal Member Council.
These finally led to the passing of the in 1885.SIR JOTINDRA MOHAN TAGORE 233 argument as we have heard from your honourable I have friend. IV. while the ryots on their part complained of oppression. both parties complaining of injustice had been gradually growing more and more and hardships. This was particularly the case in Behar and in the Indigo districts. of the tenants to ties The zemindars complained of the failure pay their rents and of the difficul- they experienced in enforcing payment." in Bengal. the exaction of illegal cesses and illegal ejectment from occupancy rights. he was interested in the long discussions that Bengal Tenancy Act had long been obvious that the law regulating the relations between landlord and tenant called for thorough revision and amendment. It relations strained. The Famine Commission urged of the necessity of the immediate introduction measures to fix definitely . while the Behar famine of the following year reduced the ryots to a hopeless condition of poverty. There can be no doubt that there was a considerable amount of truth on both sides but constant friction had so embittered fast relations between them that matters were coming to a deadlock. Maharaja Jotintra Mohan Tagore. shown that conviction succumbing to his voting with him on his proposal to Again as the largest landowner especially most practical way by arguments in committee and in the alter Bill No. In 1893 serious agricultural disturbances occurred at Pabna.
no less than two hundred amendments to the Bill finally as the Bengal down for discussion and no bill that preceded it had ever come in for so large a share of criticism and discussion. So great was the subject with which the it Bill dealt it and so keen the controversy until 1885 that the Bill aroused that was not emerged Tenancy Act (VIII of There were at one time during its progress 1885). urged that a more comprehensive measure revising the whole rent law of Bengal was urgently needed. and a Bill to provide at the same time immunity of the ryot from oppression and greater facilities for the speedy realisation of arrears of rent was taken in hand. and there can be no doubt though no measure can be regarded as perfect. He was anxious above all that the .234 the TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL relations between landlord and tenant. of The Agrarian Disputes Act 1876 was passed as a temporary measure to meet urgent cases. The Maharaja in all the discussions in which he took amount of part was fully alive to the necessity of strengthening the position not only of the landlord but also of the ryot. The Select Committee on the Bill. however. Consequently in 1879 the Government of India appointed a special commission to enquire thoroughly into the matter. the Bengal Tenancy Act has been productive of an immense good to both landlords and tenants. It has been called with much reason the most important measure of the that. nineteenth century.
SIR JOTINDRA relations of MOHAN TAGORE 235 both should be definitely put on a He agreed with Sir Courtney Ilbert. definite basis. does embody substantial improvements to the existing law that I considered Council. by means of a system of price lists. it relieved it. not whether this it is an ideally settlement perfect measure. Above all it attempted . as practical 'What the Council have men is. not whether it is likely to usher in a millenium either for it the Zemindars or for in the ryot. however it may fall short of ideal perfection. whether does something substantial towards admitted defects in the existing law.' it to be favourable consideration of the The main object same time that collection of it of the Bill as finally to give the ryot full passed was security in his holding at the gave the landlord facilities for the rent actually due and a fair share in soil. a member of the Select Committee. It is because I believe that the measure. but whether it represents a step advance. some reasonable facilities to the landlord. the increased value of the While it threw on the landlord the onus of disproving the tenant's claim to occupancy. who during the course of the debate on the Bill aptly summed up to consider is the position. of the difficulty of proving the increased value of the land. removing whether it does not give some substantial form of security to the tenant. not whether of questions a final between landlord and tenant in Bengal.
236 to lay TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL down rules which might once and for all put an end to disputes between landlord and tenant. one of the governors of the Mayo Hospital. an application was allowed in any case of dispute between landlord and tenant to determine incidents of a tenancy. . Having no son own he adopted the son of his brother. Raja Surendra Mohan Tagore. while the clauses which right relate to records of effect in and settlements have had wide-spread determining the position of both parties. during In 1879 he was created a Com- panion of the Order of the Star of India. known as the Maharaja of his Sir Prodyot Kumar Tagore Bahadur. being raised to the dignity of a Knight Commander of the same Order three years later. a grand fete on the maiden and illuminations being arranged in his honour. was chosen President is so worthily following in his adopted father's footsteps. and in the following year the title was declared hereditary. To maintain the general principles of the act. Sir Jotindra of the In 1890 Committee formed on the occasion Prince of the visit of Reception the of Wales. Honours came fast to Jotindra Mohan these busy years. The Maharaja was also a Fellow of the Calcutta University. of In 1890 the title Maharaja Bahadur was conferred upon him as a personal distinction. who has now succeeded to his hereditary honours and. reducing such disputes to single issues and laying down equitable principles for their decision.
with his brother Raja Surendra Mohan. His charities were unbounded. a member the Peace and an These. among his many activities. a piece public square of land in the heart of Calcutta for a to be named after his father. gift of widows. In memory by a of his mother he founded an endowment. Honorary Magistrate for the town however. to be one lac of rupees.' For the permanent maintenance of the Moolajori Temple he made a . Wherever humanity called for help his response wasand unfailing. he showed himself determined from the first to use it for the public good and there was no charitable scheme which had not his in Calcutta for half a century sympathy and generous support. a Justice of Fund. The possessor of great wealth. A firm believer in the value of open spaces in the- great city he gave. In the Dufferin Fund from its inception he took a keen and personal interest. The relief of physical suffering prompt by organised Hospital work particularly appealed suffering to him. are but a few of Calcutta. being a member of the committee and one of the trustees of the Central Fund.SIR JOTINDRA and a Trustee MOHAN TAGORE 237 of the Central Dufferin of the Asiatic Society. He gave large donations to the District Charitable Society and of the land made a free gift to the trustees on which the Mayo Hospital is built.. his charitieswere without distinction of caste or creed. for the benefit of Hindu known as the 'Maharajmata Sivasundari Devi Hindu Widow Fund. Though an orthodox Hindu himself.
Sir Jotindra's social entertainments were famous in His hospitability was on a princely scale and there were few European or Indian visitors Calcutta. Here. in Another gold medal was for proficiency physical science. In the same year he was appointed by the Government of India a member of the Education Commission to investigate the working of the system founded in 1854 and to ascertain the actual position of education at the time. He annually gave a gold medal for proficiency in Sanskrit literature and a gold medal in connection with the Tagore Law Lectures. while other scholarships were founded by him for Law and Sanskrit. while finding that in Bengal the system already well. engaged . At Tagore Castle and at his country Emerald Bower outside Calcutta he surrounded of art. or residents of distinction in the capital who did not partake of seat it. his library himself with a valuable collection of pictures. Presided over by Sir William Hunter. books and objects being one of the most complete private collections in India. estates His subscriptions to local schools all over his vast amounted to a large sum. made a number of it recommendations which have gone far to perfect still further in recent years.238 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL settlement of an estate worth eighty thousand rupees. the Commission went thoroughly into the needs inaugurated was doing of Indian education and. He himself was vice-president of the Faculty of Arts in 1881 and President in the following year.
He died on the 10th of January. yet never ceasing to prevent him until the last from taking a keen interest in all the great public questions of the day.SIR JOTINDRA MOHAN TAGORE 239 in his favourite literary pursuits and enjoying the music of trained musicians. failing health preventing him from taking his former active part in public affairs. . discoursed by his own company he spent his last years. 1908. and with him passed away one of the few remaining figures of the old school and one of the finest characters in Bengal in the nineteenth century.
As the his birth son and heir of the Nawab Nazim was the occasion of great rejoicings. His son Sir Syed Hassan Ali was the first of a new line of hereditary Nawab Bahadurs. placed came on the Musnud by Lord Clive after the battle of Plassey.NAWAB HASSAN ALI MIRZA KHAN BAHADUR. With the fall of Siraj-udtheir long period of absolute power however.Province until the establishment of British supremacy. subject of this sketch. MAHABUT JUNG. of The father of the Nawab Bahadur. suzerainty.C. which were made especially memorable by a fire that eldest 16 .I. Syed Hassan Ali was born on the 25th of August 1846. the was the last to hold the title a title Nawab Nazim. From the time when the Musulman Emperors at Delhi first sent a representative to preside over the destinies of the far -off eastern . the Nawab Nazims had been the real rulers of Bengal. G. SIR SYED 18461906 holder of these proud titles was the direct representative of the old Nawab Nazims of Bengal. was the of the new line of Nawabs under British first to an end. AMIR-UL OMRAH.E. which he resigned to the British Government on the first of November. Mir Jaffer. 1860. round whom for generations the whole history of the THE Province had centred. RAIS-U-DOWLAH. the acknowledged Premier nobles Sir of Bengal. Dowlah. He was the eldest son of a family consisting of nineteen sons and twenty-one daughters.
however. As he grew towards manhood the question of sending him to England to completeMs education was long and seriously discussed. Con- and painstaking he won the approbation instructors. The- voyage to Europe was not then the common occurrence among Indian Princes that it has since become. his education his early first. The future Nawab Bahadur spent From the entirely at Murshidabad. . The present it was still a magnificent building. and the Nawab Nazim exhibited a natural reluctance to part for so long a period from his eldest Realising. brought into touch with the Home Government and. remaining the architectural triumph Nawab Nazims of Bengal. days he- however. This was the famous Imambara built heyday and though it had Been shorn of much of its glory in the hundred years that had elapsed. but these henever allowed to interfere with his studies which hepursued scientious of all his with great zest and application. He early showed a fondness for sport and all manly games. by of his power. what great advantages were likely to accrue to him from a European tour he at length consented. was entrusted to English tutors and was life carefully trained for the important position in that he was destined to occupy.242 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL accidently occurred during a display of fireworksand resulted in the entire destruction of the Imambara. Not only would be he son. Imambara which was built to replace it cost sixty lacs and exceeds of the in size Siraj-ud-Dowlah at enormous cost in the even the splendid Imambara at last Hooghly.
At the British Museum. accompanied by two of his younger brothers. and after visiting Cairo and other parts of Egypt en route finally reached Southampton on April the 19th. On arrival in London the Nawabzada and his brother at once began a round of sight-seeing that must have been a continual source of delight to the young men whose previous knowledge of the world had been limited to Murshidabad.SIR SYED HASSAN ALI the leaders of 243 and thought but by he would be visiting the famous centres of industry enabled to realise the great resources of modern times and to gain a wide and comprehensive view It was in the spring of 1865 of modern conditions. set out under the guidance of Colonel Herbert who had been especially selected to escort him. that arrangements were finally completed and the English life Nawabzada at the impressionable age of nineteen. the Tower and various hours. while the opera and the theatres were a revelation to them in their utter dissimilarity from eastern plays and music. The party left Calcutta by the Peninsular and Oriental Steamer 'Candia' on the 9th of March. No efforts were spared to make their stay in London enjoyable and instructive. Practically everything of interest in London was shown to them. other places of interest they spent many fascinating The Crystal Palace was a never-failing source of delight. At the Levee held by His Royal Highness the Prince . Innumerable parties were given in their honour and there were few of the most interesting people of the day whom they did not meet.
Perhaps no part whole tour interested them more than this. and at Eaton Hall close by. making many interesting excursions in the neighbourhood including one to Portsmouth where the the great naval dockyard to From Sandgate they went wonders of was insepcted. of Her Majesty the Queen on were accorded ^the special May had they privilege the private entree. At Coventry they had the pleasure of seeing silk stuffs woven from silk which had come from their own estates in Murshidabad . the residence of the Duke of Westminster. Victoria by^ the Secretary State for After the conclusion of their visit to London. at Kidderminster they saw carpets demanufacture of . Birmingham.244 of TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL of Wales on behalf the 20th. tined for their own home in course of while Worcester furnished famous glove factories them with the sight and its still more famous its- royal porcelain works. they . where modern industry were displayed before them of their in amazing variety. At Chester they saw one of the finest English Cathedrals. The small arms and they watched for several hours a large order given by the Sultan of Turkey actually in course of execution. factory. The Nawabzadaof also the honour of being privately presented to Queen India. the princes stayed for a time at Sandgate on the south coast. excited the keenest interest. Here in the great workshops they saw actually in the making before their eyes those things "Made in Birmingham with which they had been so long familiar in the finished product.
1866. They visited among other places Paris. had remained in charge of the party throughout. Bologne. leaving early in December for a short tour interest to them. Genoa and Florence.SIR SYED HASSAN ALI saw one of 245 the finest country seats in England. England fclrtfc enjoyed a far more liberal education . He took with him his eldest son and continued to reside there for twelve years only returning to India in he young Nawabzada by his two visits to 1881. They finally bade farewell to Europe on January the 19th. Pompeii and Naples. the Nawab Nazim. and though so much of the young men's time had been taken up with travelling and sight-seeHerbert ing. At Manchester they were once more in the midst of the noise and stir of modern industry. their regular education had not been interrupted. embarking at Leghorn for Civita Vecchia in order to see Rome. Returning to on the Continent preparatory to their return home. and in 1869 he resolved to go to England to lay his case in person before the Secretary of State. almost to double that length of it had extended Colonel time. a tutor having been especially appointed while in England to continue their ordinary course of study. reaching Calcutta on March the 2nd. The affairs of his father. had not meanwhile been proceeding satisfactorily. all that related to the cotton trade being of absorbing London they spent a few more busy days sight-seeing and bidding farewell to the many friends they had made during their stay. Though at the outset it had only been contemplated that the tour should last six months.
In 1887. and Syed Hassan Ali hereditary rank the last succeeded as the head of the family. Amir-ul-Omra and Mahabat Jung being at the same time officially recognised. He showed himself to be amiable. Rais-ud-Dowlah. the year of the Queen's Jubilee. the assumption of the titles of Intisham-ul-Mulk. who. 1880. during his long association with him.246 TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL fell to the lot of most young Indian noblemen of his day. strength tone and great honesty of purpose. In 1891 a further agreement was entered upon between the Nawab Bahadur and the the Secretary of State whereby the former confirmed agreement entered upon by his-^ther in . and it relief to him when they were finally On November the 1st. displayed under unusual circumstances that less well might have turned the head of any balanced youth. the Nawab Nazim. A Grand Commander year later the higher dignity of a of the Indian Empire was conferred upon him. Four years later Nawab Nazim died. his eldest son being subsequently granted the Nawab Bahadur. voluntarily resigned his styles titles in favour of the Crown. He was reported most favour- than that which ably upon by Colonel Herbert. a high moral was a great settled. had every opportunity of fully guaging his character. was involved he was keenly interested. by an Indenture signed by himself and the and of Secretary of State. He steady and extremely anxious to learn. In the long and unfortunate disputes in which his father much of character. he was created a Knight Commander of the Indian Empire.
as they reached the open space on the river bank the whole of the second floor of the palace fell in. he himself only barely escaped with his life. and being in feeble Nawab Bahadur health he had to be carried outside by his attendants. his ready was widespread.SIR SYED HASSAN ALI November and landed 1880. Government granting him a finally settled income estates in several districts. for his sympathy and his unswerving management of his estates he took a keen personal interest and in times of suffering and distress he was always anxious to go personally to enquire and to render help. Apart. They were only just in time. During the severe earthquake of June the 12th. position he was universally loyalty. In the own personal qualities. When heavy floods ruined the crops and swept away the unfortunatecultivator's cattle and homesteads. He was sitting at the time in one of the ground-floor rooms of the palace facing the river. 1897. 247 settled while the Nawab's position. that they looked for loans and gifts to help them to tide over the evil times. Jlfu Ulher buildings The damage done to the amounted to three lacs . at the same time recognising him as the Premier noble of Bengal with the hereditary title of Nawab Bahadur and Amir-ul-Omra. As the head Bengal the respect of the Muhammadan community in Nawab Bahadur held a position of great and his influence however. from his social respected for his liberality. for. completely burying beneath the debris the room in which the Nawab BahacWr had been sitting. it was to the .
branches presented to the The Palace contains some fine pictures. It con- tains a fine Banqueting Hall 290 ft. he passed closing days amid universal respect and este5a.000. the Premier noble of Bengal and a loyal subject of the Empire. The Palace in which the Nawab Bahadur resided is a splendid building. and a magnificent chandelier with one hundred and fifty Nawab by Queen Victoria.20. of the largest in Bengal being ft. 425 ft.248 -of TWELVE MEN OF BENGAL in The havoc wrought by the earthquake the district was very great. The hospitability of the Nawab Bahadur was proverbial. and every visitor of whatever rank or -class was always sure of a welcome at the Palace. and one ft. though heavily handicapped by the expenditure entailed in restoring his own home. Thus worthily maintaining the best his traditions of his house. 1. generously to Thus. busy with the management of his estate and the control of his family affairs. long with sliding doors encased in mirrors. alrupees. notably one of King William the Fourth presented to the grandfather of the Nawab by the King himself. 200 wide and 804 high. the Nawab Bahadur lived his quiet uneventful life at Murshidabad until his death in 1906. n THE END . The relatives of the Nawab were numerous and it required much tact to decide petty disputes and generally prevent friction among them. So numerous were they that the Nizamat College was built exclusively for their education at a cost of Rs. came forward relieve the distress. long. but the Nawab.
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