This folio may contain the original letters written by Protap Chunder Mozoomdar to his wife Saudamini, though it is also possible that the pages are a handwritten copy of the originals.
The letters are bound in a single folio, and several torn or damaged pages of text reveal that the written pages have been glued onto folio pages. This shows that the volume is the product of a careful act of preservation, and it suggests that the materials are Mozoomdar’s originals. Non-uniform letter formatting and several scratched out words suggest that PCM himself wrote these pages, for it is unlikely that a scribe would be so careful as to preserve these idiosyncrasies. It is plausible that these errors were introduced into the text by an uncareful scribe, yet this is incongruous with the evident care placed in assembling the folio. A third possibility is that an earlier scribe hastily copied the letters and a compiler later assembled these duplicates into the folio.
Page thirty of the volume displays a large degree of text that has either bled onto the page from an adjacent page or bled through from text written on the underside of the page. Neither event would indicate that the composer of the folio scribed the text, for it is unlikely that a person would knowingly efface the letters she or he hoped to preserve. Since no other page was written with text on both sides, it is most likely that two pages of text were stored facing one-another for some time. This would have clearly happened prior to the folio’s composition, for each page of text in the volume faces a blank page. This suggests that these letters are either Mozoomdar’s handwritten originals or the joint work of an earlier scribe and subsequent compiler.
The strongest evidence that these letters are not PCM’s originals is the placement of letter headings in the manuscript. Mozoomdar was only able to mail his letters in batches upon arrival at several ports. Titled letter headings indicate each of these groups of letters. The heading titled “Fourth Letter” occurs mid-page on folio page seventeen, with text from the previous letter at its head. Since Mozoomdar deposited the third letter in Aden, likely on the 27th or 28th of July, and wrote the first entry of the fourth letter from the Red Sea on the 29th of July, the instance of this mid-page letter heading indicates that the series of letters was copied out and concatenated at a later date.
Thanks are due first to Saudamini Mozoomdar. Without her care in preserving these letters, very little of her husband’s personal life would be available. Thanks are also due to Sunrit Mullick. His dissertation work on Protap Chunder Mozoomdar had a great deal to do with the formulation of this project, and it is by his generosity that these letters, immaculately kept in his private collection of Brahmo Samaj materials, can also be shared here. Finally, thanks are due to Subhranil Roy, whose fine translation work has yielded the English version of these letters. Without his help, I would not have been able to make heads or tails of the Mozoomdars’ correspondence.