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A LETTER, &c.
AM greatly obliged to you for your kind Favour by the Shrewsbury. You are too partial to me for what little Notices I have fent you, from Time to Time, of what hath occurred to me from reading your ingenious Papers.
I have lately read, more than once, with great Pleasure and Attention, your entertaining Preface to the Code of Gentoo Laws. I must own to you, however, that I was a little difappointed in my Expectations from reading the Title Page. For I found it was not a Tranflation of a fingle Treatife, but what your Pundits, you say ', had picked up, Sentence by Sentence, from feveral Authors, and whofe Names you have there given *.
⚫ A Letter by the Shrewsbury Eaft India-Man, dated Calcutta, 12 December 1776.
But the Laws of Numa, Solon, and Lycurgus, as well as thofe of the XII Tables, as far as we can know of them, were all reduced into one Body, and were properly a Code for the Ufe of those for whom they were defigned.
Though the Story of the LXXII Interpreters is in good part a Fiction, yet when Ptolemy was making a Collection of Books from all Parts, the Code of the Hebrew Lawgiver could hardly escape his Notice. But where could he fend fo properly for an authentic Copy of it as to the High Prieft at Jerufalem? But this, again, was one Roll, or Book, not picked out of feveral, Sentence by Sentence, by the High Prieft and his Levites there. Diodorus Siculus likewife fays that the Jewish Lawgiver received his Laws from the God IAO, for fo, it feems, the Word was at that Time pro
◄ Jofeph. Antiq. Lib. XII. Cap. 2.
e Pag. 84.
f So the Word is wrote on the Bafilidian Gems published by Macarius. So likewise in an Oracle of the Clarian Apollo cited by Macrobius.
In ancient Times, Laws were but few, and delivered in short definitive Sentences. Afterwards, Commerce and the Knavery of those that studied Evafions, made a Multiplicity of Laws neceffary. Thefe Gentoo Laws, therefore, must have grown up to this Bulk in time, and, therefore, are not all of equal Antiquity."
Befides, a Multiplicity of Laws always argues great Corruption in a State. And many of these Gentoo Laws give plain Indications of very great Corruption. For they are levelled at Practices which could only become general by Degrees ". For which Reason it was only, by Degrees,
Φράζεο τον παύλων υπαίον θεον εμμονώ ΙΑΩ Χειμαλι μμ τ' Αιδην, 2lg δ' Ειαρος αρχομένοι Μελιον δὲ Θερεύς. Μετόπωρος δ' αόρος ΙΑΩ. Saturn. Lib. I. Cap. 18. Sic et in Chriftiana Ecclefia ab Interpretibus (7) per Dominum redditum fuit ufque ad Petrum Galatinum, ante quem, non putatur aliquis fcripfiffe Jehova, vel Jehovi. Buxtorf. Lex.
* So the Decalogue of Mofes, Exod. xx. Thou shalt do no Murder: Thou shalt not steal, &c. And in Aulus Gellius we find Legis Veteris Atiniæ funt, QUOD SUBREPTUM BRIT BJUS REI AETERNA AUCTORITAS ESTO. Lib. 17. Cap. 7. See likewife Lib. 20. Cap. 1.
See Pag. lxvii.
that they could require Laws to reftrain, or prevent them.
And, as many of these Gentoo Laws are frivolous, fo others of them are abfurd and cruel. Such I think is that relating to Women burning themselves with their deceased Husbands. And yet you say, the " Bramins look upon this "Sacrifice as one of the firft Principles of their Religion, the Caufe of which it would be hardly orthodox to investigate." The Practice is certainly very old, in our Senfe of the Word. For Strabo, fo long ago as the Reign of Auguftus Cæfar, remarks it, as a Custom in Cathay. And Diodorus Siculus' obferves the fame thing of the Women in India. Both may mean the
1 See Pag. lxx. * Ιδιον δε των Kαθέων και το συγκαλα καιεσθαι τεθνεώσε Tois Avophor Tas Fuvanas, Pag. 1024. And fo Diodorus Siculus fpeaking of the fame People fays, παρά δε τέτοις Νόμος ην τους Ivvainas tois Avopuor ovynarxesoday. Part. 2. pag. 561.
Νόμον έθεσαν όπως συγκαλοκαιωνται τοις τετελευτηκοσιν Ανδρασιν Tuwaxes. But he adds this Exception, lw Eyzowy n Twy exɣowy Texvm, unless they were with Child, or had Children. See Part 2. pag. 679. Tully likewife fpeaks of this Custom in his Tufculan. Quæft. Lib. 5. c. 27.
fame People. For the Bounds of the ancient Cathay are not very well afcertained.
Cathay, or Caracathay, in our prefent Maps, is placed in Independent Tartary. But according to Golius, in his Notes on Alferganius, the Arabian, Perfian, and other Oriental Writers make it reach as far as Thibet, and the Extremity of the Chinese Wall. Nay, according to him, the Princes now reigning at Pekin are Cathayans.
But is it not surprising that the Bramins, if they have had, as you fay, for fo many Ages the Authority of Lawgivers, and been held in fuch high Veneration, should not have put a Stop to a Custom so contrary to all Sentiments of Reason and Humanity? Human Nature is every where the fame. And a Woman in India would
m Pag. 106..
"The Profeffors of the Ordinances here collected fpeak the original Language in which they were compofed, and which is entirely unknown to the Bulk of the People, who have settled upon those Profeffors several great Endowments and Benefactions in all Parts of Hindoftan, and pay them befides a Degree of perfonal Respect little short of Idolatry. Page x. See too Pag, lvii.