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in the administration of oaths, and other particulars, together with full and effective protection for their persons and all property which might be employed in services considered by them to be of a religious character.

Experience so fully justified this course, that the same system was established at Bombay in 1799, and at Madras in 1802, and now obtains over nearly all the provinces subject to the Company's government in India, containing about 100,000,000 of inhabitants; and it has been by a discreet adherence to this course, subject to some occasional deviations not determined on without much cautious deliberation, and to which I am now about to call the attention of your readers, that the British empire in India has attained to its present extent and elevation.

The following are instances in which the principles of British justice have been applied with the view of correcting customs in India which had a religious sanction among the Hindoos.

INFANTICIDE. Of this barbarous practice two kinds have attracted the attention of the East India Company's servants, distinct from mere acts of child murder instigated by passion or revenge, but which had their origin in motives conceived by the natives to be justifiable if not meritorious.

The first appears to have had for its immediate site the Island of Saugor, at the mouth of the river Ganges; a place of great note in the calendars of Hindoo superstition, to which the Hindoos were wont to make pilgrimages under religious vows, and there devote their offspring, by casting them into the river to be drowned and devoured by sharks, in the hope of thereby obtaining increase of family. This practice was suppressed by a regulation of the Bengal government in the year 1802, but with very considerable caution; the whole of the religious observances being permitted to remain, together with the oblations to the faqueers, who presided over them, and nothing being forbidden but the infanticide. It was nevertheless found necessary to enforce this prohibition by a military guard from Calcutta, who for that purpose have during many years proceeded to the accustomed place of sacrifice at each of the half-yearly festivals, there to guard the coast and prevent acts of infanticide.

Since the prohibition these fes

tivals are stated to have assumed much of the character of fairs, or periods of public resort to the sea coast for the purposes as well of trade or amusement as of worship.

Another species of infanticide, which prevailed among certain tribes of Hindoos, denominated Rajkoomars, Rajevansees, and Rajpoots, and which appears to have had its origin in pride of caste, was encountered with success by two of the East India Company's most enlightened servants; who wisely resorted rather to argument and amicable treaty than to coercion for its suppression. These castes it appears were prompted to destroy their female offspring immediately after their birth, under a notion that no alliances could be found of sufficient rank and dignity for females of those high castes. The correspondence relative to the discouragement, with a view to the eventual extinction of this custom, is of a highly interesting character; it has been published by order of Parliament, and from it we learn that Mr. Jonathan Duncan, Resident in Benares, and afterwards Governor of Bombay, who first noticed the subject in the year 1789, and Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Walker, the Company's representative in Kattawar and Kutch, in the year 1808, both exerted themselves to obtain the consent of the heads of those tribes to abandon the practice. After much discussion and urgent entreaty that consent was obtained, and the parties bound themselves under penalties to discontinue the practice. Still it appears not to have been altogether relinquished; some fines for violation of agreement have been recovered, out of which a fund has been formed to be employed in marriage portions for the children whose lives have been saved. These children are in Kattawar designated the daughters of the state. Their fathers are entitled on the marriage of any of them, or on their attaining the marriageable age, to appear publicly in the durbar, or Court of the British Resident, and there to receive portions for their children and honorary badges for themselves. More than three hundred females have been thus saved from death on that side of India, and now form a new and distinct class or caste, who owe their existence to the mild and benevolent influence of the East India Company's government wisely exerted. In the districts near Benares

the means employed to prevent infanticide have been far less, if at all, successful. All that is known is that the Rajpoots in general have no female children in their families.

HUMAN SACRIFICES. There are unfortunately among the Hindoo idols two, the Goddess Khalee and the God Devi, who claim to be propitiated by human victims. Upon the discovery of one of these sacrifices in 1805 the subject underwent considerable discussion, and it was ascertained that the sacrifices had the sanction of the vedas; the mode of the sacrifice being described in a chapter on human sacrifices in the Puranas, in which all the qualifications, and particularly the age of the victim, are expressly prescribed. It was at the same time ascertained that a more modern treatise on Hindoo law, called the " Cali, or Present Age," forbad it, and under all the circumstances the Government resolved to deal with it as an act of murder, consent on the part of the victim having no place in the transaction. In conformity with this decision Ram Dyal, a native of Bengal, was sentenced to death in 1805 for offering up a boy of twelve years of age to Khalee. Instances have nevertheless occurred since that date of Hindoos attempting to make, and even of their making, this sacrifice; for which, in some cases, a punishment less than death has been awarded. In consideration of the superstition which prompts the act the punishment awarded for it in the year 1828 was seven years' confinement. In the Nagpore territory it has been prohibited by the authority of the Government, at the instance, it is believed, of Mr. Jenkins, who was then the East India Company's Resident at the Court of the Nagpore Rajah, and is now a member of the Court of Directors.

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as possessing a power over their own lives, for the exercise of which they were not accountable to their fellow creatures while the great veneration in which they hold the waters of the Ganges, and the superstitions connected with that sacred river, have suggested to them a mode of quitting life, when they have become weary of it, at once speedy, easy, and, according to their notions, blissful in its consequences beyond all calculation. Hence has arisen among the Hindoos the custom sanctioned by their religion, of lepers and other diseased persons, when they have become weary of life, requesting that they might be borne down to the margin of the Ganges, and there be left to the tide, certain ceremonies having previously been performed over them. In other instances the suicide is performed by the victims causing themselves to be carried into boats, in which they are rowed into the middle of the river, and there falling or being thrown overboard, are drowned. Others cause themselves to be buried or burned alive. Although accession to these acts of suicide was forbidden by regulation as far back as the year 1799 (No. 8, Sec. 3), instances of that accession are continually occurring in India, and as the parties when arraigned for their conduct, uniformly acknowledge the fact, pleading that they are justified in it "by the tenets of their religion," the Company's government has in general judged it prudent to treat the offenders with considerable leniency on that account.

SUTTEES. Respecting this species of suicide, some controversy has taken place, which it is not my present intention to review. At a very early period after the establishment of the East India Company's power in India, it became an object of desire with their servants to discourage, and if possible to prevent this sacrifice; and in 1805 Mr. Elphinstone, the acting magistrate in Behar, following the examples of Mr. Brooke in 1789, and Mr. Rattray in 1797, prevented the immolation of a widow of very tender age. The enquiries respecting the sanction which the sacrifice derived from the dogmas of the Hindoo superstition, which immediately afterwards took place, resulted in a report from the Nizamut Adawlut, or chief criminal court, that the " practice of widows

burning themselves with the bodies of their deceased husbands, is founded on the religious notions of the Hindoos, and is expressly stated with approbation in their law." Among the texts quoted from the Shasters in support of the practice, were the following, which were considered to be very influential on the minds of Hindoo females, by whom they were received and believed-"There are three millions and a half of hairs upon the human body, and every woman who burns herself with the body of her husband, will reside with him in heaven during a like number of years;" and "in the same manner as a snake-catcher drags a snake from his hole, so does a woman who burns herself draw her husband out of hell, and she afterwards resides with him in heaven." There were some cases, however, in which even the Hindoo law declared the practice illegal, and with the whole evidence before them, the Government resolved, in the first instance, by a circular order to the magistrates, to prohibit the practice in those cases only, and obtain further information. The propriety of this proceeding has been questioned by some and vindicated by others. It certainly had the effect of bringing the practice of Suttee more immediately under the cognizance, while, as some think, it gave it the implied sanction of the ruling power. By making the Government acquainted with its extent, it most probably paved the way for its authoritative prohibition in December, 1829 a step which the GovernorGeneral in Council did not feel himself, then, at liberty to take, till he had ascertained with great care the extent to which it was likely to excite popular commotion. No such commotion is reported to have taken place; but, if the Calcutta Gazette of the 27th of June, 1831, is to be credited, the only native gentleman of rank who ventured to congratulate the Governor-General on the prohibition of Suttee, suffered severe persecution from the other natives of his own rank in Calcutta, in consequence of his having so done; and a society was immediately formed there for the protection of the rights of the Hindoo Church. With advertence to these facts, it may be too hasty an assumption to suppose that the practice of Suttee has been altogether discontinued in India- a country where the

widow is required to burn with her husband's corpse, and where the dead are always burned before sunset. On the contrary the official returns of former years justify the belief, that in many parts of India the practice may still continue to a considerable extent, in the absence and without the knowledge of the police officers, and in some cases by their connivance. BRAMINS.

Their sacred character and personal inviolability. The case of Raja Mahá Nundcomar, a Bramin of high caste, who was hanged in Calcutta for a forgery on the Government, committed in the time of Governor-General Hastings, has been long before the public, with the angry controversy and various opinions to which that event gave rise. It may be sufficient here to observe, that that act of authority has not been considered by the servants of the East India Company as forming a precedent: on the contrary, for nearly 40 years subsequent to that event, the Bengal Government, adhering to the rule of prudent caution and respect for popular prejudice, upon which their power rested, abstained, even within the Bengal provinces, and in cases of very great atrocity, from taking the life of a Bramin; while in the district of Benares, the lives of Bramins were secured in all imaginable cases by a regulation of the Government, passed in the year 1795. Many instances have occurred of Bramins having escaped the penalty of death under this latter regulation, which was in force till about the year 1817; when it was judged proper so far to repeal it as to let the general law in cases of murder take its course against natives of all castes, including the Bramin.

THE BULL and Cow. The sacred character which the Hindoos attach to these animals, and the veneration with which they regard them, is another peculiarity in their religion which has imposed upon the Company's government the necessity of great caution. Such attention has been given to this prejudice by the native Hindoo princes, that some of them have stipulated by treaty that no persons who might be allowed to reside in their territories should attempt to slaughter oxen. According to the Hindoo law, the punishment for stealing one of these animals is the amputation of one hand and one

foot; and the same law imposes a very large fine upon any person who shall exact labour from a bullock when he is hungry, or thirsty, or fatigued, or oblige him to labour out of season. To these animals temples have been consecrated, and large districts in India are held sacred for their exclusive use. There have also been instances, one in particular, in which a Hindoo of rank offered to suffer any punishment which the Government would inflict on him, for having forcibly possessed himself of a cow, the property of a Mahomedan, whereby he had saved the life of the animal. Offensive as these facts must be to every Christian feeling, it will not excite surprise that a few years since the Government of Bengal censured one of the Company's junior servants severely for amusing himself with a bull-bait, whereby great confusion and turmoil had been excited among the Hindoo inhabitants of Calcutta; nor will it create much astonishment that the Mahomedans, who eat the flesh of oxen, and the Hindoos, who venerate those animals, should have had some severe and sanguinary conflicts that account: on which occasions the Company's authority has been exerted to preserve the peace. It is not many years since the town of Mobaruckpore was burnt down by the Hindoos, in order to avenge the slaughter of a cow by the Mahomedans.


DHURNA, or the practice followed by one caste of peculiar sanctity, of hiring out their persons to sit at the doors of real or pretended debtors, with a threat that they will starve themselves to death unless the demands of the pretending creditors are complied with, is another of those peculiarities in the frame of Hindoo society towards which the East India Company have found it necessary to manifest great tenderness in the administration of the government. Although sitting dhurna is illegal, instances of it have not yet been visited with very severe legal castigation.

WITCHCRAFT. In their belief in witchcraft, the natives of India are at this time in precisely that state in which the natives of this now enlightened country were not quite two centuries since, when King James sent Hopkins the witchfinder to hunt down witches in the north; and one of the Company's agents gravely advised the Court of Directors of the measures

which he had adopted in order to put down witches and wizards. From this faith in necromancy and sorcery, have arisen in India breaches of the peace, and even murders, which the judicial authorities there have been required to notice and to punish. The administration of the law, however, even when murder has ensued, has usually been mitigated with reference to the dominant superstition, and, in all cases, a large discretion has been exercised, under a persuasion that severity would but have inspired fanaticism.

SLAVERY and SLAVE TRAFFIC.-In the East Indies the word slavery describes relations very different from those which the same word designates in the West. In general, in the East, it excludes the ideas of purchase, of oppressive toil, and of severe and arbitrary punishments. To this description of slavery in India there are, however, some local exceptions. Among the Hindoos those of the Bramin castes are understood to regard all the lower or degraded castes as slaves, and often require and receive from them unremunerated service from religious motives; and the Mahomedans perpetuate domestic bondage, claiming the rights of a master over slaves among their children and servants: but these claims, without having been abolished, have been modified by the administration of those general principles of justice which are recognized in the Company's regulations. All persons, of all castes, have free access to the European magistrates, to complain of ill usage, and the evidence of all is admissible, quantum valeat. In addition to these privileges, the more oppressive circumstances of slavery have been expressly interdicted by the Company's regulations; together with slave traffic, which the French, the Dutch, and the Danes successively endeavoured to establish in India, where it was prohibited by proclamation long before the passing of the Slave Trade Felony Act in England, in the year 1811. That Act was nevertheless published in India, as a general law of the empire.

I regret, Mr. Urban, that the limit which you have assigned to this communication compels me here to terminate it; with the intention of resuming and concluding the subject in your next monthly publication.


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