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The Story of My Life
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The Story of My Life
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About the Book

Philip Meadows Taylor has often been called the last of the Adventurers. This autobiography is a surprisingly well written record of the wanderer, so frequent in English life since Plassey, who 'runs away early to the tropics and is at home with the palms and the banyans'. Amazing things are revealed in this biography. Completed in 1874 it depended not only on an old man's uncertain recollections, but on the mass of correspondences with his father during the forty years that he lived in India. He had the liveliest affection for the people of India and treated men and women of all ranks with due respect, something wanting in most British officers.

About the Author

Philip Meadows Taylor (1808-76) was sent out to India to become a clerk to a Bombay merchant. However, Baxter was in financial difficulties and in 1824 Taylor gladly accepted a commission in the service of the Nizam of Hyderabad. He was speedily transferred from military duty to a civil appointment and in this capacity acquired a proficient knowledge and the people of southern India. Meanwhile, he studied the laws, geology and the antiquities of the country and became an expert in megaliths. Taylor is the author of several popular books, including Confessions of a Thug, Tippoo Sultan, Seeta and A Noble Queen.

Preface

FOR several years before his death, the writer of these Memoirs had been urged by his friends to leave on record some account of his adventurous and useful life. The materials at hand were authentic and abundant ; for, not only was he possessed of an excellent memory and great powers of retaining and narrating numerous and complicated details with entire accuracy, but during the forty years he spent in India, he carried on a copious correspondence with his father and other members of his family, and a great portion of these voluminous letters has been not only preserved, but carefully transcribed in England. I venture, therefore, to say that nothing is related in these volumes upon vague recollection or traditional evidence, but every incident is told as it happened.

Although it was not the fate of Meadows Taylor to rise to a high rank in the civil or military administration of India, and he cannot lay claim to the distinction and fame which belong to the illustrious founders and servants of the British Empire in the East, there were circumstances in his career not less remarkable than in the lives of greater men. He was one of the last of those who went out to India as simple adventurers—to use the term in no disparaging sense, for Clive and Dupleix were no more—and who achieved whatever success he had in4ife solely by his own energy and perseverance, independent of the patronage of the great Company or the authority of the Crown. A lad of fifteen, after a few years spent at a second-rate school, and a few months in the drudgery of a Liverpool merchant's counting-house, is sent to Bombay upon a vague and fallacious promise of mercantile employment. It was long before the days of Indian examinations and Competition Wallahs. Arrived at Bombay, the house of business he was to enter proved to be no better than a shop, and its chief an embarrassed tradesman. By the influence and assistance of a kinsman, a commission was obtained for the misfortune-stricken boy in the Nizam's military contingent. Thus only he started in life. But the stress of circumstances and the tenacity of his own character had already taught him the all-important lesson of self-reliance and independence. Already, on the voyage, he had commenced the study of Eastern languages, to which he applied himself with extreme assiduity in his new position, perceiving that until a man has mastered the language of a country, he can know little of its inhabitants, and may remain for ever a stranger to the intelligence and the hearts of those over whom he exercises authority. His perfect acquaintance with the languages of Southern India, Telugu, and Marathi, as well as Hindustani, was no doubt the foundation of his extraordinary influence over the natives of the country, and of his insight into their motives and character. It was also the first step to his advancement in his profession. At seventeen he was employed as interpreter on courts-martial, and recommended for much higher duty by the Resident ; and at eighteen he found himself Assistant Police Superintendent of a district comprising a population of a million souls. Nor were the duties of that office light. They involved not only direct authority over the ordinary relations oof society, but the active pursuit of bands of dacoits, Thugs, and robbers, who infested a half-civilised territory. Occasionally, military expeditions were necessary to reduce some lawless chief of higher degree to obedience. The head of the police was, in short, the representative of law and order in a wild country. These duties, at this early age, Meadows Taylor performed, and with such success as to merit the notice of the sagacious old Minister of the Nizam, Chandu Lal, and the approval of the Resident.

Introduction

This Story of my Life has always seemed to me to be an illustration of Longfellow's catch :

What is an autobiography ? It is what a biography ought to be.

The interest in this case is chiefly literary and romantic. Meadows Taylor has been called, while the word still kept a noble meaning, the last of the Adventurers. Here is a surprisingly well-written record of the wanderer, so frequent in English life since Plassey, who 'runs away early to the tropics, and is at home with palms and banyans.

I was glad to be asked, before sitting down to write about him, why Colonel Taylor should be reprinted at this date by the Oxford University Press. The least thought provides a sufficient answer : For the rare beauty of his character, and as the author of the autobiography and of his three earlier novels, Confessions of a Thug, Tippoo Sultaun, and Tara. Of its other three novels there will be a little to say in the right place. But I have not a word to say for them as literature. Instead of helping Taylor's claim to be remembered they cruelly hamper it. Inferior work can never be merely in different ; and the three later novels must have put off many who honestly wanted to sample the writer.

As to the History of India, that is fully dealt with in a note. The lavish extracts made from it throughout this volume suggest the good things of which it is full--touches springing from Taylor's happy personality, accounts of places and of people he knew. Never will another History of India be attempted by any one, with such a loving knowledge of its people, although the work does not meet modern standards of accuracy.

**Contents and Sample Pages**





















The Story of My Life

Item Code:
NAZ168
Cover:
HARDCOVER
Edition:
1877
ISBN:
9789390035502
Language:
English
Size:
9.00 X 6.00 inch
Pages:
552
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 0.7 Kg
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$45.00   Shipping Free
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About the Book

Philip Meadows Taylor has often been called the last of the Adventurers. This autobiography is a surprisingly well written record of the wanderer, so frequent in English life since Plassey, who 'runs away early to the tropics and is at home with the palms and the banyans'. Amazing things are revealed in this biography. Completed in 1874 it depended not only on an old man's uncertain recollections, but on the mass of correspondences with his father during the forty years that he lived in India. He had the liveliest affection for the people of India and treated men and women of all ranks with due respect, something wanting in most British officers.

About the Author

Philip Meadows Taylor (1808-76) was sent out to India to become a clerk to a Bombay merchant. However, Baxter was in financial difficulties and in 1824 Taylor gladly accepted a commission in the service of the Nizam of Hyderabad. He was speedily transferred from military duty to a civil appointment and in this capacity acquired a proficient knowledge and the people of southern India. Meanwhile, he studied the laws, geology and the antiquities of the country and became an expert in megaliths. Taylor is the author of several popular books, including Confessions of a Thug, Tippoo Sultan, Seeta and A Noble Queen.

Preface

FOR several years before his death, the writer of these Memoirs had been urged by his friends to leave on record some account of his adventurous and useful life. The materials at hand were authentic and abundant ; for, not only was he possessed of an excellent memory and great powers of retaining and narrating numerous and complicated details with entire accuracy, but during the forty years he spent in India, he carried on a copious correspondence with his father and other members of his family, and a great portion of these voluminous letters has been not only preserved, but carefully transcribed in England. I venture, therefore, to say that nothing is related in these volumes upon vague recollection or traditional evidence, but every incident is told as it happened.

Although it was not the fate of Meadows Taylor to rise to a high rank in the civil or military administration of India, and he cannot lay claim to the distinction and fame which belong to the illustrious founders and servants of the British Empire in the East, there were circumstances in his career not less remarkable than in the lives of greater men. He was one of the last of those who went out to India as simple adventurers—to use the term in no disparaging sense, for Clive and Dupleix were no more—and who achieved whatever success he had in4ife solely by his own energy and perseverance, independent of the patronage of the great Company or the authority of the Crown. A lad of fifteen, after a few years spent at a second-rate school, and a few months in the drudgery of a Liverpool merchant's counting-house, is sent to Bombay upon a vague and fallacious promise of mercantile employment. It was long before the days of Indian examinations and Competition Wallahs. Arrived at Bombay, the house of business he was to enter proved to be no better than a shop, and its chief an embarrassed tradesman. By the influence and assistance of a kinsman, a commission was obtained for the misfortune-stricken boy in the Nizam's military contingent. Thus only he started in life. But the stress of circumstances and the tenacity of his own character had already taught him the all-important lesson of self-reliance and independence. Already, on the voyage, he had commenced the study of Eastern languages, to which he applied himself with extreme assiduity in his new position, perceiving that until a man has mastered the language of a country, he can know little of its inhabitants, and may remain for ever a stranger to the intelligence and the hearts of those over whom he exercises authority. His perfect acquaintance with the languages of Southern India, Telugu, and Marathi, as well as Hindustani, was no doubt the foundation of his extraordinary influence over the natives of the country, and of his insight into their motives and character. It was also the first step to his advancement in his profession. At seventeen he was employed as interpreter on courts-martial, and recommended for much higher duty by the Resident ; and at eighteen he found himself Assistant Police Superintendent of a district comprising a population of a million souls. Nor were the duties of that office light. They involved not only direct authority over the ordinary relations oof society, but the active pursuit of bands of dacoits, Thugs, and robbers, who infested a half-civilised territory. Occasionally, military expeditions were necessary to reduce some lawless chief of higher degree to obedience. The head of the police was, in short, the representative of law and order in a wild country. These duties, at this early age, Meadows Taylor performed, and with such success as to merit the notice of the sagacious old Minister of the Nizam, Chandu Lal, and the approval of the Resident.

Introduction

This Story of my Life has always seemed to me to be an illustration of Longfellow's catch :

What is an autobiography ? It is what a biography ought to be.

The interest in this case is chiefly literary and romantic. Meadows Taylor has been called, while the word still kept a noble meaning, the last of the Adventurers. Here is a surprisingly well-written record of the wanderer, so frequent in English life since Plassey, who 'runs away early to the tropics, and is at home with palms and banyans.

I was glad to be asked, before sitting down to write about him, why Colonel Taylor should be reprinted at this date by the Oxford University Press. The least thought provides a sufficient answer : For the rare beauty of his character, and as the author of the autobiography and of his three earlier novels, Confessions of a Thug, Tippoo Sultaun, and Tara. Of its other three novels there will be a little to say in the right place. But I have not a word to say for them as literature. Instead of helping Taylor's claim to be remembered they cruelly hamper it. Inferior work can never be merely in different ; and the three later novels must have put off many who honestly wanted to sample the writer.

As to the History of India, that is fully dealt with in a note. The lavish extracts made from it throughout this volume suggest the good things of which it is full--touches springing from Taylor's happy personality, accounts of places and of people he knew. Never will another History of India be attempted by any one, with such a loving knowledge of its people, although the work does not meet modern standards of accuracy.

**Contents and Sample Pages**





















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