several places as I drew the cord round the book with my utmost strength.
Such were my experiences. The Sanskrit MSS. preserved mainly in the houses of the educated Brahmin community afford far less difficulty in this way than the old vernacular books. It is neither convenient nor agreeable to visit the straw-roofed sheds and mud-hovels of the poor and superstitious artisans who are generally their custodians, and the distant villages of Bengal are not always easy of access. A journey to them is often attended with considerable hardship and risk. One night's experience. I recollect how one night I and my companion, Kalikānta Barman, were providentially saved from death while returning after a fruitless search for old MSS. from the village of Gailara in the district of Tipperah. We lost our way in the dead of night and wandered for many long hours in the dense forest of the hilly land infested with snakes and tigers, while violent storm and rain raged around and an impenetrable darkness encircled us. It should be stated here that force is of no avail in collecting old books. If violence or coercion of any kind is to be employed, the villagers will often shut their doors and deny that they possess any MS.
Mr. N. Vasu's library of MSS. By far the largest collection of old Bengali MSS. is to be found in the library of Mr. Nagendranāth Vasu, the editor of the Bengali Encyclopaedia, ‘the Vishvakoṣa’, and I am proud of the fact that I was of some help to this scholar in collecting them. In August 1897, I was living at No. 14 Rājābāgān Street, Calcutta, and was very seriously ill. A man named Rāmkumār Datta, a native of Patrasiar in the district of Bīrbhum, was employed by me at the time as a servant in my house. I trained this man in the art of collecting Bengali MSS. and sent him to Viṣṇupur and other places several times during the year for the purpose. Some of the MSS. he collected under my instructions and guidance were important and rare. But as I was in great pecuniary straits at the time, and could ill afford to pay for the MSS. and the expenses of Rāmkumār's trips to the Mofussil, I advised Mr. Vasu to utilize the trained services of this man and he readily complied with my suggestion. Rāmkumār was thus transferred to his service and for a period of more than ten years collected old MSS. from various parts of Bengal, Mr. Vasu sparing neither pains nor money to replenish his library with this valuable collection of books. His library now contains more than 1500 old Bengali MSS. I studied most of these at the time they were collected, so they have been of great help in compiling the present work.