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Taylor, William


Taylor, William civil servant of the east india company. He was the Commissioner of Patna in 1857. Thereafter, he was appointed as the civil and sessions judge of Mymensingh on demotion. After a few days, he resigned his post and started legal practice.

Taylor wrote his autobiography entitled Thirty-Eight years in India in two Volumes that were published from London in 1882. In the first volume, there is a separate section on 'Random Notes by an Exile During His Banishment', which provides important information for writing the social history of a region of nineteenth century Bengal.

After the sepoy revolt in 1857, Taylor met out brutal treatment to the indigenous people, especially the Muslims of Patna. Taylor wrote that he did not behave harshly. His duty was to protect the interest of the empire. halliday, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, was not convinced with this argument. He demoted Taylor to make him OSD and then appointed him as the civil and sessions judge of Mymensingh. Taylor wrote, 'For me, a lonely place known as 'Mymensingh' was selected which was located six hundred miles away from Patna in a corner of Eastern Bengal'.

In the 'Random Notes' can be found the description of the way from Patna to Mymensingh. It took Taylor two weeks to traverse this path. From Taylor's 'Random Notes', one can know about the life style of the British civilians in Mymensingh, its society, social reforms, cultivation and agricultural products, seasons, etc. Taylor wrote that, 'in India cholera was new compared to pox. To please the goddess of pox, Shitla, the indigenous people would wear a talisman engraved with the portrait of the goddess'. However, this custom of pleasing the goddess Shitla seemed to him to be abominable. The blisters and black skins of the face of the patient would be collected and usually put to any meeting point of roads coming from all four directions. Taylor wrote, 'it is difficult to imagine a better way of dispersing the disease or more madness'.

As far as the ornaments used by the female folks of Mymensingh are concerned, Taylor said that the forms of ornaments in that region came 'from the nature and when the natural forms mingle with the usual practice, it becomes excellent because this is the honesty of actual taste'. Regarding the Bengalis, Taylor wrote that the major characteristic of this nation was that they were peaceful and flexible. [Muntassir Mamoon]