Actuated by a sense of duty to the people with whom twelve years of my life were passed on terms of intimacy and kindness, I was induced to write the principal number of the following Letters as faithful sketches of the Manners, Customs, and Habits of a people but little known to the European reader. They were at first designed merely for the perusal of private friends; who, viewing them with interest, recommended my bringing them before the public, considering that the information they contained would be acceptable from its originality, as presenting a more familiar view of the opinions and the domestic habits of the Mussulmaun community of Hindoostaun than any hitherto presented through other channels.
I have found (and I believe many will coincide with me in the opinion) that it is far easier to think with propriety than to write our thoughts with perspicuity and correctness; but when the object in view is one which conscience dictates, the humblest effort of a female pen advances with courage; and thus influenced, I venture to present my work to the public, respectfully trusting they will extend their usual indulgence to a first attempt, from the pen of a very humble scribe, more solicitous for approbation than applause.
The orthography of Asiatic words may differ in some instances in my pages from those of other writers—this, however, is from error, not design, and may be justly attributed to my own faulty pronunciation.
I have inserted in these Letters many anecdotes and fables, which at the first view, may be considered as mere nursery tales. My object, however, will I trust plead my excuse: they are introduced in order to illustrate the people whom I have undertaken to describe; and, primarily strengthened by the moral tendency of each anecdote or fable selected for my pages, I cannot but consider them as well suited to the purpose.
Without farther apology, but with very great deference, I leave these imperfect attempts to the liberality of my readers, acknowledging with gratitude the condescending patronage I have been honoured with, and sincerely desiring wherever anticipations of amusement or information from my observations have been formed, that the following pages may fulfil those expectations, and thus gratify my wish to be in the smallest degree useful in my generation.
[B. Meer Hassan ali]
Introductory Remarks.—The characteristic simplicity of manners exhibited in Native families.—Their munificent charity.—The Syaads.—Their descent, and the veneration paid to them.—Their pride of birth.—Fast of Mahurrum.—Its origin.—The Sheahs and Soonies.—Memorandum of distances.—Mount Judee (Judea), the attributed burying-place of Adam and Noah.—Mausoleum of Ali.—The tomb of Eve.—Meer Hadjee Shaah.