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" The first is, that it was so common for women to poison their husbands, that this institution was necessary to prevent it.
“ The other is, that the Brahmins, to promote their own interest, first persuaded the womea that it was for the everlasting good of their families ; that their souls would not enter into any, groveling infects, but animare a cow, or fonie such noble animal, and that their term of purgation would be shortened, and they would have the fewer transmigrations to go through, before they become pure enough to be received by the Almighty in Heaven.
“ Whatever may be the cause, it is however certain, that the Brah. mins greatly encourage this practice, and that they receive great benefits from it; for the woman, when she is brought out to facrifice herself, is dressed with all her jewels, which are often of considerable value; when the pile is prepared, and the woman has taken leave of her friends, she throws all her ornaments from her, which the priests take for themselves.
“ It is said, that the strict rule of casts is on this occafin sometimes dispensed with ; and the daughter of the mother who has burned, may be married to a man of a higher rank.
“ I cannot myself subscribe to the first opinion of the cause of this custom, becauce they have many of them more than one wife, and only one is permitted to have the honour of burning,
• No people in the world have stricter notions of the honour of their women, particularly those of the higher casts. If any one has an improper connexion, fuch a woman has not only lost her cast, but it is an undelible ftain upon the honour of her family: and in case of an elopement, it has been known that the girl has been pursued and recovered by her parents, who have put her immediately to death, to expiate by her blood, part of the disgrace the has brought upon them.
“ Nevertheless, the retirement of the women does not appear to be a part of the religion, or caused by the jealousy of the men, so much as an idea of delicacy and dignity, in concealing themselves froin vulgar eyes.
“ The tribe of Hindoos the English have most connexion with, and are obliged to put most confidence in, are in the third great division, called Banians, who are a kind of merchants, or rather brokers in every kind of merchandize. Every European both civil and military, who has either trade, or troops under him to pay, is obliged to have one of them in his service, who is a sort of steward: one of thein is likewise necessary at the head of every family, to hire and pay the servants, and purchase whatever is wanting, for nothing can be bought or sold without them.
" They are exceedingly indolent; crafty, and artful to an astonishing degree; and thew in all their dealings the most despicable low cunning, which makes them not to be depended upon for any thing: they have not only a secret premium out of whatever they pay to lervants, tradespeople, &c. but keep them out of their money long after the mafter supposes they have been paid.
“ They are the most redious people in the world; for, besides the holidays, which they will on no account break through, they have a me. VOL. VI.
thod of putting every thing off till to-morrow: when it is found out, as it often is, that they have told an untruth, they have no shanie for it, but immediately tell another and another ; nothing can hurry them, nothing can discompose or put them out of countenance, nothing can make them angry; provided their gains are sure, the master may fret to find his business go on Nowly, may abuse them for want of honesty, inay argue with them for their ingratitude, may convict them of fallhood and double dealing, it signifies nothing, the same inild and placid countenance remains, without the least symptom of fear, anger, or shame."
Of the Mahomedans in India, Mrs. Kindersley gives also a particular account: from which we shall take a short extract or two.
Although the Mahomedans are not so strietly divided into tribes as the Hindoos, nor are they by their laws prevented from raifing themfelves to a higher rank in life, they have nevertheless the same notion of losing casi, but they do not observe it fo ítrictly. If any one eats fwine's Hefh or drinks wine, he ought to lose call, though they often drink secretly, and to excels; but in public, they stand upon great ceremony in these points ; so much that a cook who is a Musulman will not dress a joint of pork, nor will any servant at table, though perhaps there be a hundred standing round, remove a plate in which pork has been ; unless it is a Nave, who having no cast cannot be disgraced by this, or any other employment.
“ The Harri or Hallicore cast are the dregs of both Mussulmen and Hindoos, employed in the meaneit and vilest offices ; people whose selves or parents have left caft. But there is a resource for even the worst of these, which is to turn christians : I mean Roman Catholics ; and such are the chief, if not the only profelytes, the Missionaries have to boast ot in the eait; being mostly Tuch as have commitred foine very great crimes, or have been made llaves when young, which prevents their ever returning amongst those of their own religion. If any woman has committed a crime so great as to induce her husband, or any other person, to cut off her hair, which is the greatett and most jrrecoverable disgrace, se like a thousand others is glad to be received into some society, and be vmes a christian; so that most of the black christians are more lo from neceility than from conviction.”
• The Muflulmen in India are not such itrict observers of their religion, as in the countries nearer the tomb of the prophet.
“ They are all predestinarians ; and believe, that whatever is intend. ed must be; more particularly the time of every person's death is recorded in the book of fate from all eternity. This belief has a most extraordinary influence on their conduct: they meet death with an indifference which is perfectly attonishing; and a man who would begin the most abject manner to avoid a punishment, or save his goods, will noe utter a fingle word to preserve his life; fo firmly are they convinced of their predestiny.
They believe likewise that whoever is sain in battle goes immediately into Paradise.
“ It has often been asserted by travellers, that the Mahomedans beLieve wornen have no fouls; and are, by the prophet, excluded from
Paradife; however, the learned in the Arabic language, who take their authority from the Alcoran itself, deny this, as an absolute fallity; particularly he pro'nised his own wives, that if they obeyed his laws, they should have a peculiar place assigned for them.
• Nevertheless, whether the Mutsulmen of this time have been led into an error' by their doctors and commentators on the Alcoran, or whether they have adopted it through policy, I know not: but I may venture to assure you, that many of them in this country at least), if they do not think the women absolutely excluded, still believe that they will not be admitted to the fame supreme degree of felicity as themfelves : and some of them on this subject will only say, that those new women who have distinguished theintélves on earth, by any extraordinary virtues, or illustrious actions, may be admitted.
“ All the Mahomedans have the power of life and death over their own families, their wives, children, and llaves, when any of the:n commit crimes which the Koran deems capital.
“ The doubtful points of religion do not diiturb their peace; pot curious to know the truth, it is not here we must look for learning and science: the wise men of the East have disappeared, I believe, throughout the Eart; at leait in Hindoitan, philofophy and philosophers are no more! even the princes and miniiters are so illiterate that some or them can scarcely write or read.”
Of the wonderful indolence, of the natives of this country, the letter-writer gives the following description,
“ All the people of rank keep a great train of servants, to whom they give very litile wages ; but as they must live, they take advantage of being under their master's protection; and indemnify themselves by their impositions on all who have any dependance on their master's favor, extorting presents, &c. and obliging the trades-people to sell them their goods at an under price. In short, “ corruption, like a general flood, has deluged all.”
“ As to the cominon people, I cannot speak of them without pain ; or ever pass through the Buzars of Patna, or any other place, without drawing comparilons between the poor of this country and those of England : these are poor indeed! scarce any covering, their food rice and water; their miserable huts of straw: in the cold reason they have a fire made of a little straw in the middle of their huts, which smothers them with smoak ; their minds, except what nature gave them, no more informed than the beasts which perish : no liberty, no property ; subject to the tyranny of every superior. But what seems to complete their misery is, that whether pinched by cold, or enervated by heat, indolence equally prevails, to such a degree as seems to absorb every faculty ; even immediate felf-preservation scarcely rouses them from it.
“ Oae fees, in palling through the streets, men, women, and chil. dren, in abundance sitting at their doors unemployed, like statues ; and their aversion to action is fo extreme, that when themselves or children are in danger of being crushed by horses or carriages, they will neither move themselves, nor put out a hand to draw their infants nearer to them, till the moment they are forced to it; and then do not
withdraw an inch farther than they are obliged, and with an air of difsatisfaction, which plainly shews how disagreeable it is to them to change their posture.
“ Ease with them is the greatest good; and nothing surprizes the Indians 1o much as to see Europeans take pleafure in exercise ; they are astonished to see people walking who might fit ftill.
“A great Musulman, being invited to an English entertainment where there was dancing, faid with great earnestness, he was surprized to see the English ladies and gentleinen take the trouble of dancing theinselves, to-be-sure they might have people to dance for them. Perhaps you will think this a very extraordinary observation ; nevertheless it is perfectly in character, and not the least surprizing to those who fee daily instances of the effects of this climate.
“ And yet, what is very extraordinary, there are certain cafts of both Hindoos and Mahomedans, who at times undergo great labour, particularly the Bearers : people whose business it is to carry a Palenqueen. They are generally stout fellows; the Palenqueen is carried hy four; and seven or eight, by changing, will carry a person at the rate of four miles an hour for several hours together. The Dandies likewise have a laborious employment; and their constantly plunging into the water in the height of perspiration, would kill any person but those who are used to it.
“ There are other cafts who are remarkably swift of foot, particularly Hircarers ; these people are often made use of as spies, both ou public and private occasions ; frequently they are kept as a sort of running-footmen, and compose a part of the parade of servants who precede a Palenqueen; they are likewise sent with letters or messages to very diftant
country, and their expedition is extraordi. nary:
“ When one gives a Hircarer a letter to carry to any distance, he takes off his turband, and carefully conceals the letter in the folds of it; he provides himself with a brass pot, for the convenience of drawing water from the wells or rivers he is to pass ; and a little parched rice, either in a bag or the folds of his garment, which is generally a piece of coarse linen, from his waist to his knees : thus equipped, with a sort of club in his hand, he will make a journey of three or four hundred miles.
“ The grooms, who are called fices, are tolerably swift: for when ever the horse which a fice takes care of is rode, he constantly attends with it, in quality of footman; and if the sun is up, a bearer will carry an umbrello, and walk equal to the usual pace of riding, which indeed is not very fast in this country.
“ These instances, however, are sufficient to shew, that the natives are not incapable of using exercise; and, although the climate is certainly extremely relaxing, it seems to impair their minds more than their bodies ; to which indolence of spirit, a despotical government and its consequences has perhaps not a little contributed.”
But we muft here, tho' with reluctance, cake leave of these sensible and ainusing letters.
A Letter to the Body of Protestant Disenters; and to Protestant
Disenting Ministers, of all Denominations. 8vo. is. Almon.
A serious expoftulation with, or rather a severe remonftrance against, the difsenters; whose present state of dereli&tion and decay, as a political body, is ftrenuously infifted on, and placed in the most discouraging point of view, with regard to those who look on them as a community, “ a controuling power" as the letter-writer terms it, “a check within a state; the prevailing principles of which [ftate) lead to despotism and diflolution. We shall not enter here into a dispute with this writer, how far such a controuling power is politically useful, or with what propriety it might be vested in the hands of religious diflenters; but we cannot help hinting, even here, that he mistakes the prevailing principles of the fate for the prevailing practices of fatemen. But of this, perhaps, more presently. Our remonftrant sets out, in the following manner.
“ Gentlemen, “ Among the many proofs of the decline of those principles which have obtained Great Britain its distinction and happiness, you furnish fome of the most alarming. It has been your boast and your glory, that you have ever stood foremost in defence of Liberty; and have borné more than your fare of that reproach and resentment which delpotism and tyranny have shewn to their opponents. It has been your complaint, that when others have availed themselves of your spirit and your allistance, they have stopped at those points where they might stipulate terms with power; and left you to its vengeance.
"This is true only in a qualified sense: for every thing which hath the appearance of Virtue is not intitled to its reward. It is certainly true, that the degree of freedom which has been introduced into the English Conftitution, is a consequence of the resistance and opposition of the Diffenters. Whether a greater degree of it might have been introduced in time, and in a better manner, is a question which we need pot now enter upon. What I would obferve (though with much re. gret and reluctance) is, that your public conduct has hardly in any lingle instance been actuated by truly public and patriotic principles : that your opposition to arbitrary power, though steady, firm, and tended with beneficial consequences to the publick, has hardly ever been upheld by a single motive which extended beyond the inclosures of your own conventicles. In such cases, it was just that
should du good, and not reap the benefit; and it will never be regretted, that those who could avail themselves of your Enthusiasm, should leave you, when they had no further occasion for you, to the ridicule, reproach, and reltraint, which your real views probably deserved.”
After mentioning the influence of Dissenters in former times, he proceeds,
“How comes it to pass that you, a numerous, wealthy, powerful, and important body of people, thould have been the means of procuring so rauch benefit, and yet not share in the honour? The English con