Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VII. - The History of British India, vol. 1
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CHAP. VII. - James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 1 
The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 1.
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BOOK II. Chap. 7.By the manners of a nation are understood the peculiar modes in which the ordinary business of human life is carried on. The business itself is every where essentially the same. In all nations men eat and drink; they meet, converse, transact, and sport together. But the manner in which these and other things are performed is as different as the nations are numerous into which the race is divided.
So much of the entire business of life, among the Hindus, consists in religious services, that the delineation of their religion is a delineation of the principal branch of their manners.
The singular distinctions, attached to the different classes, present another remarkable feature in the manners of this people. The lower orders, in other countries, are often lamentably debased; in Hindustan they are degraded below the brutes. With the single exception of the Vaisya caste, to whom is appropriated the business of agriculture and of barter, the whole of the productive classes, according to the standards of law and religion, are vile and odious, unworthy to eat, to drink, or to sit with a member of the classes above them.
There are four remarkable periods into which, with respect to the three honourable classes, human life is divided. Of these periods; or orders, as they are denominated by the Hindus; the first is that of the student; the second, that of the householder; the third, that of the man who performs penance orBOOK II. Chap. 7. other religious acts, residing continually in a forest; the fourth, that of the Sannyasi, or the ascetic absorbed in divine contemplation.1
The period of the student commences at the era of investiture.2 Prior to this age, the situation of children is remarkable; even those of a Brahmen are not held superior in rank to a Sudra.3 The condition of the student much more closely resembles that of an European apprentice than that of a pupil in literature. He dwells in the house of his preceptor, and tends him with the most respectful assiduity. He is commanded to exert himself in all acts useful to his teacher;4 and of course performs the part of an assistant in all the offices of religion.5 “As he who digs deep with a spade comes to a spring of water, so the student, who humbly serves his teacher, attains the knowledge which lies deep in his teacher's mind.” Upon the student of the priestly order a peculiar burden, or distinction, is imposed: to acquire daily his food by begging.6
The gift of sacred instruction is not bestowed indiscriminately; but the text, which regulates the choice of pupils, is so vague as to leave the selection nearly at the discretion of the master. “Ten persons,” it is declared, “may legally be instructed in the Veda; the son of a spiritual teacher; a boy who is assiduous; one who can impart other knowledge; one who is just; one who is pure; one who is friendly; one who is BOOK II. Chap. 7. powerful; one who can bestow wealth; one who is honest; and one who is related by blood. Where virtue and wealth are not found, or diligent attention proportioned, in that soil divine instruction must not be sown; it would perish like fine seed in barren land.”1
The instruction which is bestowed may soon be described. “The venerable preceptor, having girt his pupil with the thread, must first instruct him in purification, in good customs, in the management of the consecrated fire, and in the holy rites of morning, noon, and evening.”2 The grand object of attention and solicitude is the reading of the Veda.3 Some classes of the Brahmens have united with their religious doctrines certain speculations concerning the intellectual and material worlds; and these speculations have been dignified with the name of philosophy; but the holy rites, and the Veda, form the great, and on most occasions the exclusive object of that higher instruction which is bestowed on the pupil of the Brahmen.
On this important occasion, as on other occasions, the attention of the Hindu is much more engaged by frivolous observances, than by objects of utility. While the directions laid down respecting the instruction of the pupil are exceedingly few and insignificant, the forms, according to which he must pay his duty to the master, are numerous, minute, and emphatically enjoined.4
The duration of the period of study is very indefinite.BOOK II. Chap. 7. “The discipline of a student in the three Vedas may be continued for thirty-six years, in the house of BOOK II. Chap. 7. his preceptor; or for half that time, or for a quarter of it, or until he perfectly comprehend them: A student, whose rules have not been violated, may assume the order of a married man, after he has read in succession a sac’ha, or branch from each of the three Vedas, or from two or from any one of them.”1 It is even permitted to pass the whole period of life in the state of a pupil; and to this merit so exalted is ascribed, that the very highest rewards of religion are bestowed upon it. “If a student anxiously desire to pass his whole life in the house of a sacerdotal teacher, he must serve him with assiduous care, till he be released from his mortal frame. That Brahmen who has dutifully attended his preceptor till the dissolution of his body, passes directly to the eternal mansion of God.”2 Should the teacher die, the student must attend upon his widow, his son, or one of his paternal kinsmen, with the same respect as to the deceased preceptor. Should none of these be living he occupies the seat of the preceptor himself.3
To the state of the student succeeds that of theBOOK II. Chap. 7. married man, or the housekeeper. It is at this epoch that the Hindu begins to sustain a part as the member of society.
Marriage is a religious duty; and a duty of the highest order. Except for some grand plan of devotion, as that of remaining a student, or of becoming a fakeer, no man neglects at an early age to fulfil this sacred obligation. As the sacrament of obsequies to the manes of ancestors can be performed only by a male descendant, and as any failure in these obsequies deeply affects the spirits of the dead, to die without a son is regarded as one of the greatest of all calamities.1
BOOK II. Chap. 7. The ceremonies of marriage, entirely religious, have been already described. Marriages are distinguished into eight kinds; of which one half are honourable, and differ from one another only in some minute circumstances; in the fifth the bridegroom bestows gifts upon the bride, her father, and paternal kinsman; the last three are rather species of unlawful connexion, than forms of nuptial contract; one being voluntary and by mutual consent; the other forcible, when a woman is seized, “while she weeps, and calls for assistance, after her kinsmen and friends have been slain in battle;” the last, “when the damsel is sleeping, or flushed with strong liquor, or disordered in her intellect.”1 With the grand rule to prevent the intermixture of the castes, the reader is already acquainted. “For the first marriage of the twice-born classes,” says the law of Menu, “a woman of the same class is recommended; but for such as are impelled by inclination to marry again, women in the direct order of the classes are to be preferred: a Sudra woman only must be the wife of a Sudra; she and a Vaisya of a Vaisya; they two and a Cshatriya, of a Cshatriya; those two and a Brahmani, of a Brahmen.”2 The Hindu law-givers, who commonly mistake minuteness for precision, and are apt to be most particular where it is least required, make rules for theBOOK II. Chap. 7. choice of a wife. “In connecting a man's self with a wife, let him,” says Menu, “studiously avoid the ten following families, be they ever so great, or ever so rich in kine, goats, sheep, gold, and grain: The family which has omitted prescribed acts of religion; that which has produced no male children; that in which the Veda has not been read; that which has thick hair on the body; and those which have been subject to hemorrhoids, to phthisis, to dyspepsia, to epilepsy, to leprosy, and to elephantiasis. Let him not marry a girl with reddish hair, nor with any deformed limb; nor one troubled with habitual sickness; nor one either with no hair, or too much; nor one immoderately talkative; nor one with inflamed eyes; nor one with the name of a constellation, of a tree, or of a river, of a barbarous nation, or of a mountain, of a winged creature, a snake, or a slave; nor with any name raising an image of terror. Let him choose for his wife a girl, whose form has no defect; who has an agreeable name; who walks gracefully like a phenicopteros, or like a young elephant; whose hair and teeth are moderate respectively in quantity and in size; whose body has exquisite softness.”1
The condition of the women is one of the most remarkable circumstances in the manners of nations. Among rude people, the women are generally degraded; among civilized people they are exalted.2 In the barbarian, the passion of sex is a brutal impulse, which infuses no tenderness; and his undisciplined nature leads him to abuse his power over every creature that is weaker than himself. The history of uncultivated nations uniformly represents the women as in a state BOOK II. Chap. 7. of abject slavery, from which they slowly emerge, as civilization advances. Among some of the negro tribes on the coast of Africa, the wife is never permitted to receive any thing from the hands of her husband, or even to appear in his presence, except on her knees.1 In the empire of Congo, where the people are sufficiently advanced to be united in a large community; and in most of the nations which inhabit the southern regions of Africa, the women are reckoned unworthy to eat with the men.2 In such a state of society property is an advantage which it may naturally be supposed that the degraded sex are by no means permitted to enjoy. Not only among the African and other savage tribes, and the Tartars of the present day, but among the ancient inhabitants of Chaldea and Arabia, and all the nations of Europe in their ancient uncivilized state, the women were excluded from the inheritance of the family.3 Being condemned to severe and perpetual labour, they are themselves regarded as useful property. Hence a father parts not with his daughter but for a valuable consideration; hence the general custom, among barbarous nations, as in Pegu, in Siberia, among the Tartars, among the negroes on the coast of Guinea, among the Arabs, and even among the Chinese, of purchasing the bride by a dower.4 It is only in that improved state of property and security, when the necessities of life have ceased to create perpetual solicitude, and when a large share of attention may be given to its pleasures; that the women, from theirBOOK II. Chap. 7. influence on those pleasures, begin to be an object of regard. As society refines upon its enjoyments, and advances into that state of civilization, in which various corporeal qualities become equal or superior in value to corporeal strength, and in which the qualities of the mind are ranked above the qualities of the body, the condition of the weaker sex is gradually improved, till they associate on equal terms with the men, and occupy the place of voluntary and useful coadjutors.
A state of dependance more strict and humiliating than that which is ordained for the weaker sex among the Hindus cannot easily be conceived. “Day and night,” says Menu, “must women be held by their protectors in a state of dependance.”1 Who are meant by their protectors is immediately explained: “Their fathers protect them in childhood; their husbands protect them in youth, their sons protect them in age: a woman,” it is added, “is never fit for independence. Let husbands consider this as the supreme law, ordained for all classes; and let them, how weak soever, diligently keep their wives under lawful restrictions.”2 “By a girl, or by a young woman, or by a woman advanced in years, nothing,” says the same code, “must be done, even in her own dwelling-place, according to her mere pleasure. In childhood must a female be dependant on her father; in youth, on her husband; her lord being dead, on her sons: a woman must never seek independence.”3 The deference which is exacted towards her husband is without limits. “Though inobservant of approved usages, or enamoured of another woman, or devoid of good qualities, yet a husband must constantly be revered as a BOOK II. Chap. 7. god by a virtuous wife. No sacrifice is allowed to women apart from their husbands, no religious rite, no fasting: as far only as a wife honours her lord, so far she is exalted in heaven.”1 “She who neglects her lord, though addicted to gaming, fond of spirituous liquors, or diseased, must be deserted for three months, and deprived of her ornaments and household furniture.”2 To every species of ill-usage, she is bound to submit; “neither by sale nor desertion,” says the ordinance of Menu, “can a wife be released from her husband: thus we fully acknowledge the law enacted of old by the lord of creatures.”3 This is a remarkable law; for it indicates the power of the husband to sell his wife for a slave, and by conse quence proves, that her condition, while in his house, was not regarded as very different from slavery. A law is even made to direct the mode in which she is beaten; “A wife, a son, a servant, a pupil, and a younger whole brother, may be corrected, when they commit faults, with a rope, or the small shoot of a cane; but on the back part only of their bodies, and not on a noble part by any means.”4
Nothing can exceed the habitual contempt which the Hindus entertain for their women. “Hardly are they ever mentioned in their laws, or other books, but as wretches of the most base and vicious inclinations, on whose nature no virtuous or useful qualities can be engrafted. “Their husbands,” says the sacred code, “should be diligently careful in guarding them; though they well know the disposition with which the lord of creation formed them; Menu allotted to such women a love of their bed, of their seat, and of ornament, impure appetites, wrath, weakBOOK II. Chap. 7. flexibility, desire of mischief, and bad conduct.”1 “Be there no place, be there no time, be there no one to tempt them,” says the Hetopadesa, “then, O Narada, doth women's chastity appear. Women at all times have been inconstant, even among the celestials, we are told. In infancy the father should guard her, in youth her husband should guard her, and in old age her children should guard her; for at no time is a woman proper to be trusted with liberty.”2 The same author declares again; “Unto woman no man is to be found disagreeable, no man agreeable. They may be compared to a heifer on the plain, that still longeth for fresh grass. Infidelity, violence, deceit, envy, extreme avariciousness, a total want of good qualities, with impurity, are the innate faults of womankind.”3
BOOK II. Chap. 7. They are held, accordingly, in extreme degradation. They are not accounted worthy to partake of religious rites but in conjunction with their husbands.1 They are entirely excluded from the sacred books; “Women have no business with the texts of the Veda; thus is the law fully settled: having, therefore, no evidence of law, and no knowledge of expiatory texts, sinful women must be as foul as falsehood itself. To this effect many texts, which may show their true disposition, are chanted in the Vedas.”2 “A minor,” says the law, “one single person, a woman, a man of bad principles, &c. may not be witnesses.”3 We have already seen, as in the most barbarous nations, that the women among the Hindus are excluded from sharing in the paternal property.4 They are, by system, deprived of education.5 That remarkable proof of barbarity, the wife held unworthy to eat with her husband, is prevalent in Hindustan.6
BOOK II. Chap. 7. An almost unlimited power of rejection or divorce appears to be reserved to the husband. In the code of Gentoo laws, among various other ordinances to the same purpose, it is declared that, “a woman who dissipates or spoils her own property, or who procures abortion, or who has an intention to murder her husband, and is always quarrelling with every body, and who eats before her husband eats, such women shall be turned out of the house.”1 On grounds like these, a man can never be without a pretence for dismissing his wife. But on the other hand we have seen that no species of barbarous treatment, not even desertion and sale, ever absolves the woman from her obligations to her lord.2
BOOK II. Chap. 7. That polygamy was an established custom of the Hindus, we learn from various documents, and among others from the following story, which at the same time conveys no evidence of their domestic gentleness:—“In the city of Devee-kotta, there was a Brahman, whose name was Deva-Sarma. One lucky evening he found a curious dish, which he took with him into a potter's warehouse full of earthen-ware, and throwing himself upon a bed which happened to be there, it being night, he began to express his thoughts upon the occasion in this manner:—If I dispose of this dish, I shall get ten kapardakas (cowries) for it; and with that sum I may purchase many pots and pans, the sale of which will increase my capital so much that I shall be able to lay in a large stock of cloth and the like; which having disposed of at a great advance, I shall have accumulated a fortune of a lack of money. With this I will marry four wives; and of these I will amuse myself with her who may prove the handsomest. This will create jealousy;BOOK II. Chap. 7. so when the rival wives shall be quarrelling, then will I, overwhelmed with anger, hurl my stick at them thus! Saying which he flung his walking-stick out of his hand with such force, that he not only broke his curious dish, but destroyed many of the pots and pans in the shop.”1
The Hindus were, notwithstanding, so far advanced in civilization, except in the mountainous and most barbarous tracts of the country, as to have improved in some degree upon the manners of savage tribes. They have some general precepts, recommending indulgence and humanity in favour of the weaker sex. “Married women,” says the law of Menu, “must be honoured and adorned by their fathers and brethren, by their husbands, and by the brethren of their husbands, if they seek abundant prosperity. Where female relations are made miserable, the family of him, who makes them so, very soon wholly perishes.”2 When particulars indeed are explained, the indulgences recommended are not very extensive. It is added, “Let those women, therefore, be continually supplied with ornaments, apparel, and food, at festivals, and at jubilees, by men desirous of wealth.”3 When it is commanded by law, as an extraordinary extension of liberality, to give them ornaments, and even apparel and food, at festivals and jubilees; this is rather a proof of habitual degradation than of general respect and tenderness. The idea, however, of purchasing a wife, as a slave, from her relations, had become odious; and though it is stated as one of the eight species of nuptial contract, it is classed among BOOK II. Chap. 7. the dishonourable species, and forbidden.1 As the necessity of such a law indicates a state of society but one remove from that in which the unhappy bride is purchased and sold; so the customary, and original purchasing gift, the bull and the cow, still remained; but it had acquired a religious character, and was at last commanded to pass by another name. “Some say,” observes the law of Menu, “that the bull and cow given in the nuptial ceremony of the Rishis, are a bribe to the father; but this is untrue: a bribe indeed, whether large or small, is an actual sale of the daughter.”2 There are texts, however, which directly recognize the transaction as a purchase: “He who takes to wife,” it is said, “a damsel of full age, shall not give a nuptial present to her father; since the father lost his dominion over her, by detaining her at a time when she might have been a parent.”3 The obligation of the marriage contract is stated in the Institutes of Menu, under the head of purchase and sale; and it is expressly said, “If, after one damsel has been shown, another be offered to the bridegroom, who had purchased leave to marry her from her next kinsman, he may become the husband of both for the same price: this law Menu ordained.”4 The same undoubtedly is the purport of the following sacredBOOK II. Chap. 7. text: “The recitation of holy texts, and the sacrifice ordained by the lord of creatures, are used in marriages for the sake of procuring good fortune to brides; but the first gift by the husband is the primary cause of marital dominion.”1 It is to be observed, besides, that the women have no choice in their own destiny; but are absolutely at the disposal of their fathers, till three years after the nuptial age. If, until that period, the father have neglected what is reckoned one of his most sacred duties, to place his daughter in a situation to become a parent, he forfeits, through his sin, the dominion over her, and she may choose a husband for herself.2
It has been doubted whether immuring the women was an original part of Hindu manners, or adopted in consequence of the intercourse and dominion of the Mahomedans. But they have been found in a state of seclusion and confinement beyond the range of Mahomedan influence.3 The practice is fully recognized BOOK II. Chap. 7. in the ancient writings. We are told in the Bhagavat, that, on the day of the yug of Judishter, “the women who, buried in harams, were seldom permitted to see the sun, came out, on that day, to view rajah Judishter.”1 The monarch who forms the hero in the drama entitled Sacontala had many wives, and they are represented as residing in the secret apartments of the palace.2 The whole spirit of the Hindu maxims indicates confinement: there are numerous precepts which respect the guarding of women: and the punishment for vitiating those who are not guarded is always less than the punishment in the case of those that are.3 Among these proofs of confinement are also appearances of freedom. The law of seclusion is made only for the few. Among the jealous Ottomans themselves, the great body of the community must leave their women at large, because an indigent man can neither dispense with the useful services of his wife, nor afford the cost of retaining her in confinement. In the earlier and ruder states of society, when men are in general poor, few can afford the expense of confinement; but among the Hindus, as in general among the nations of Asia, since their emerging from the rudest barbarism, it seems to have been the practice for every man, who possessed sufficient means, to keep his women guarded, in a state of seclusion.
BOOK II. Chap. 7. On the coast of Malabar, where the manners differ considerably from those of the rest of the Hindus, and where the people have not reached a state of society altogether so perfect as that in some other parts of Hindustan, it would appear that the institution of marriage has never been regularly introduced. The peculiar mode in which the intercourse of the sexes is here carried on has not yet been satisfactorily explained to us, and from the differences which appear in the accounts of different authors it probably exhibits considerable variety; but in its general character it is pretty evidently a relict of the period in which there is no law for the association of the sexes; when their intercourse is casual; when the father of the offspring is by consequence uncertain; and when the children of necessity belong to the mother. The nearest male relations of the female, her father being in this case unknown, are her brothers; who, never having children whom they can recognize as their own, naturally contract an affection for those of their sister whom they support and with whom they live; by consequence regard them as in some measure their own; and vest them with the property which they leave at their death. In the family of a Nair there is no wife; all the brothers and sisters live under the same roof; their mother the only known parent, during her life, and after her death the eldest sister, manage the domestic affairs; the sisters cohabit with the men of their choice, subject only to the sacred restriction of a class not inferior to their own; the children are by the brothers regarded as their own, and inherit the property of the family.1 This is the BOOK II. Chap. 7. exact description of a people among whom the institution of marriage is unknown, and the order into which things will run of their own accord, wherever the intercourse of the sexes is casual. The Nairs, however, are said to have added a kind of refinement to this established custom. They contract a marriage with a particular woman. But this is entirely nominal. The woman never leaves her mother's house; her intercourse with other men is not restricted; her children belong to her brothers; and the arrangement of society is the same as if no such marriage existed. If it really takes place, and the absurdity of the thing may support a suspicion of some mistake in our informants, it must be the effect of imitation, and of the reproaches which this people have sustained from other nations. These circumstances move them to contrive a semblance of a marriage, though not in the least degree to alter the established system of manners, to which it adheres as a useless excrescence. The Nairs are only one of the castes; and there appears to be some diversity in the mode of intercourse between the sexes in the several castes. The fashion among the Nairs is the standard to which they all approach. Our information, however, of these diversities, even if they merited a fuller elucidation, is too imperfect for minute description.1
BOOK II. Chap. 7. It is not surprising, that grossness, in ideas and language, respecting the intercourse of the sexes, is a uniform concomitant of the degraded state of the women. Superficial contemplators have, in general, contented themselves with remarking, that it was a diversity of manners; or was the effect of a diversity of climate; and that what in one place was gross bore a different interpretation in another. Inquiry discovers, that grossness in this respect is a regular BOOK II. Chap. 7. ingredient in the manners of a rude age; and that society, as it refines, deposits this, among its other impurities. The ancient inhabitants of our own country were as indelicate as those of the hottest regions of Asia.1 All European witnesses have been struck with the indelicacy of the Hindus. The gross emblems and practices of their religion are already known.2 To the indecent passages in the books of law, and the practices which they describe, exceedingly numerous, and exceedingly gross, we can here only allude.3 Both the writings and conversation of the Hindus abound with passages which are shocking to European ears. Even in the popular and moral work, entitled Hetopadesa, there are parts which Mr. Wilkins could not translate; and he thus expresses himself on this characteristic of society among the Hindus: “The translator has carefully refined a great many indelicate expressions, which a Hindu lady, from grosser habits, might hear without a blush; and even omitted whole passages when that could not be effected but by a total change of the author's meaning.”4 Another Oriental scholar, as well as eye-witness of the manners he describes,BOOK II. Chap. 7. affords us a passage which at once pourtrays this part of the Hindu character, and traces one of those remarkable resemblances, which run through the principal nations of Asia. “The Persian woman,” says Mr. Scott Waring, “like the Indian, are totally devoid of delicacy; their language is often gross and disgusting, nor do they feel more hesitation in expressing themselves before men, than they would before their female associates. Their terms of abuse or reproach are indelicate to the utmost degree. I will not disgust the reader by noticing any of them; but I may safely aver that it is not possible for language to express, or the imagination to conceive, more indecent or grosser images.”1
Much attention has been attracted to the gentleness of manners, in this people. They possess a feminine softness both in their persons and in their address. As the inhabitants of Europe were rough and impetuous, in their rude and early state, and grew mild only as they grew civilized, the gentleness of Hindu manners has usually impressed their European visitors, with a high conception of their progress in civilization. It is, perhaps, a ground of presumption; but fallacious if taken as a proof. One of the circumstances which distinguish the state of BOOK II. Chap. 7. commencing civilization is, that it is compatible with great violence, as well as great gentleness of manners. Nothing is more common than examples of both. Mildness of address is not always separated even from the rudest condition of human life, as the Otaheitans, and some other of the South-Sea islanders, abundantly testify.1 “The savages of North America are affectionate in their carriage, and in their conversations pay a mutual attention and regard, says Charlevoix, more tender and more engaging, than what we profess in the ceremonial of polished societies.”2
BOOK II. Chap. 7. The causes which seem to account for these effects are partly physical, and partly moral. Where the commodities of life, by a happy union of climate and soil, are abundant, gentleness of manners, as appears by the traditions respecting the golden or pastoral age, is by no means unnatural to men in the earliest period of improvement: The savage, involved in a continual struggle with want, who sees himself and his children every day exposed to perish with hunger, is, by a sort of necessity, rapacious, harsh, unfeeling, and cruel. The species of polity under which the national character is formed is perhaps to a still greater degree the cause of the diversity which we now contemplate. Where the mind is free, and may vent its passions with little fear, the nation, while ignorant and rude, is also fierce and impetuous: Where slavery prevails, and any departure from the most perfect obsequiousness is followed with the most direful consequences, an insinuating and fawning behaviour is the interest, and thence becomes the habit, of the people.
With the same causes are connected other leading features in the character of the Hindus. They are remarkably prone to flattery; the most prevailing mode of address from the weak to the strong, while men are still ignorant and unreflecting.1 The BOOK II. Chap. 7. Hindus are full of dissimulation and falsehood, the universal concomitants of oppression.1 The vices of falsehood, indeed, they carry to a height almost unexampled among the other races of men. Judicial mendacity is more than common; it is almost universal. “Perjury,” said Sir William Jones, to the Grand Jury at Calcutta, “seems to be committed by the meanest, and encouraged by some of the better sort among the Hindus and Mussulmans, with as little remorse, as if it were a proof of ingenuity, or even a merit.”2 —” I have many reasons to believe, and none to doubt, that affidavits of every imaginable fact may as easily be procured in the streets and markets of Calcutta, especially from the natives, as any other article of traffic.”3 Speaking of the forms of an oath, among the Hindus, he says, “But such is the corrupt state even of their erroneous religion, that if the most binding form on the consciences of men could be known and established, there would be few consciences to be bound by it.”4
I have not enumerated the religion of the HindusBOOK II. Chap. 7. as one among the causes of that gentleness, which has been remarked in their deportment. This religion has produced a practice, which has strongly engaged the curiosity of Europeans; a superstitious care of the life of the inferior animals. A Hindu lives in perpetual terror of killing even an insect; and hardly any crime can equal that of being unintentionally the cause of death to any animal of the more sacred species. This feeble circumstance, however, is counteracted by so many gloomy and malignant principles, that their religion, instead of humanizing the character, must have had no inconsiderable effect in fostering that disposition to revenge, that insensibility to the sufferings of others, and often that active cruelty, which lurks under the smiling exterior of the Hindu. “Although the killing of an animal of the ox kind,” says Buchanan, “is by all Hindus considered as a kind of murder, I know no creature whose sufferings equal those of the labouring cattle of Hindustan.”1 No other race of men are perhaps so little friendly, and beneficent to one another as the Hindus. “Dysenteries,” says Dr. Tenant, speaking of the salt manufacturers, “are at one season, peculiarly fatal. The unhappy victims of this disorder are avoided as infectious BOOK II. Chap. 7. by their companions, and suffered to pine without receiving either that aid or consolation, which compassion usually pays to the wretched.”1 “The Bengalese,” says another traveller, “will seldom assist each other, unless they happen to be friends or relations, and then the service that they render only consists in carrying the sufferer to the water of the Ganges, to let him die there, or be carried away by the stream.”2 Le Couteur remarks, that “men accustomed from their infancy to abstain from every kind of cruelty towards brutes, ought naturally to be humane and benevolent towards their own species; and this would infallibly be the case, if the same religion had not hardened the hearts of the superior casts; for they hold those that are born their inferiors, as beings below even the most worthless animals: they take away the life of a man with less scruple than we kill a fowl. To strike a cow would BOOK II. Chap. 7. be sacrilege; but a Bramin may put a man to death when he lists.”1
It commonly happens that in a rude period of society, the virtue of hospitality, generously and cordially displayed, helps to cast into the shade the odious passions which adhere to man in his uncultivated state. The unhappy circumstances, religious and political, of the Hindu, have tended to eradicate even this, the virtue of a rude age, from his breast. After noticing in various parts of his journey, the striking instances which he witnessed of the want of hospitality, Dr. Buchanan says in one passage, “I mention these difficulties, which are very frequently met with by travellers in all parts of India where Europeans have not long resided, to show the inhospitable nature of its inhabitants.” For one of his sepoys, who was seized with an acute disease, and left in agony by the side of the road, he could not, except by force, in a large village obtain a cot, though he was assured there was one in every house.2
BOOK II. Chap. 7. The ancient literature of the Hindus affords many proofs that no inconsiderable degree of ferocity has at all times been mingled with the other ingredients of their character. The Yadavas, a sacred race, the kindred of Crishna, in a drunken fray, took arms and butchered one another, to the utter extinction of the race.1 One of the most remarkable stories in the celebrated book, called Hetopadesu, is that of a man who cut off his wife's nose, because she would not speak to him.2 As the performance of that great religious ceremony, called a Jug, is sufficient to extort from the divinity whatever boon the true performer demands, the following law makes provision against the most cool, intense, and persevering malignity of which human nature appears to be susceptible. “If a man performs a jug to procure the death of any innocent person, the magistrate shall fine him 200 puns of cowries.”3 If the gentleness, too, of the punishment, about ten shillings,4 be a sign, the indignation, which so atrocious a purpose excites, is far from remarkable. That murder by the most odious means, by poison, is looked upon in the same venial light, the following law bears equal testimony; “If a man, to procure the death of any innocent person, by any contrivance, causes him to drink a potion, or otherwise meditates his death, the magistrate shall fine him 200 puns of cowries.”5 The cool reflection which attends the villainy of the Hindu, has oftenBOOK II. Chap. 7. surprised the European. Mr. Holwell informs us, that, when he sat as a judge at Calcutta he had often heard the most atrocious murders avowed and defended by the criminals, on the ground of its being now the Cali age, when men are destined to be wicked.1
Notwithstanding the degree to which the furious passions enter into the character of the Hindu, all witnesses agree in representing him as a timid being. With more apparent capacity of supporting pain than any other race of men; and, on many occasions, a superiority to the fear of death, which cannot be surpassed, this people run from danger with more trepidation and eagerness than has been almost ever witnessed in any other part of the globe.2
It is the mixture of this fearfulness, with their antisocial passions, which has given existence to that litigiousness of character which almost all witnesses have ascribed to this ancient race. As often as courage fails them in seeking a more daring gratification to their hatred or revenge, their malignity finds a BOOK II. Chap. 7. vent in the channel of litigation. “That pusillanimity and sensibility of spirit,” says Mr, Orme, “which renders the Gentoos incapable of supporting the contentions of danger, disposes them as much to prosecute litigious contests. No people are of more inveterate and steady resentments in civil disputes. The only instance in which they seem to have a contempt for money, is their profusion of it in procuring the redress and revenge of injuries at the bar of justice. Although they can, with great resignation, see themselves plundered to the utmost by their superiors, they become mad with impatience, when they think themselves defrauded of any part of their property by their equals. Nothing can be more adapted to the feminine spirit of a Gentoo, than the animosities of a lawsuit.”1
A modification of the same passions gives rise to another, and seemingly a strong ingredient in the Hindu character, a propensity to the war of contentious tongues. The following picture, if not finely, is at least clearly drawn. “The timidity of the Hindu may, in general, prevent his fighting, boxing, or shedding of blood; but it by no means restrains him from scolding and upbraiding his neighbours. In BOOK II. Chap. 7. this respect they are the most litigious and quarrel-some of all men. Have two persons a misunderstanding? Let them meet in the street and they will upbraid each other for an hour together, with every foul epithet of abuse which their imagination can suggest, or their language supply. A few natives engaged in one of these bickerings display a furious gesticulation; a volubility of words and coarseness of expression which leave the eloquence of Billingsgate far behind.”1
The physical temperament of the Hindus, though an effect of some of the circumstances which have operated to the formation of their minds, has reflected a strong influence on their character. Their make is slender and delicate. Their shapes are in general fine. The female form, in particular, frequently attains in India its most exquisite proportions; and “their skins,” says Mr. Orme, speaking of the Hindu women, “are of a polish and softness beyond that of all BOOK II. Chap. 7. their rivals on the globe.” The muscular strength, however, of the Hindus, is small; even less, according to the same accurate observer, than the appearance of their bodies, though expressive of weakness, would lead the spectator to infer. Their stature is in general considerably below the European standard; though such inferiority is more remarkable in the south, and diminishes as you advance toward the north.1
The extreme simplicity and lightness of the aliments used by the Hindu, and the smallness of his consumption, must, undoubtedly, have been among the causes of the lightness and feebleness observable in his frame. His food consists almost wholly of rice; and his drink is nothing but water: while his demands are satisfied with a pittance which appears extreme to the people of almost every other part of the world. The prohibition, by the Hindu religion, of the flesh of animals for food, has been sufficiently remarked. It is not such as to have produced by any means a total abstinence, but the quantity consumed is, no doubt, small. The great luxury of the Hindu is butter, prepared in a manner peculiar to himself, and called by him, ghee.2
But though the body of the Hindu is feeble, it isBOOK II. Chap. 7. agile, in an extraordinary degree. Not only in those surprising contortions and feats, which constitute the art of the tumbler, do they excel almost all the nations in the world; but even in running and marching they equal, if not surpass, people of the most robust constitutions. “Their messengers will go fifty miles a day, for twenty or thirty days without intermission.” Their infantry, if totally unincumbered with burthens, which they could by no means support, will march faster, and with less weariness, than European.1
The delicacy of their texture is accompanied with great acuteness and sensibility in all the organs of sense. This not only gives them great advantages in some of the finest of the manual arts, as weaving, for example; the pliant fingers and exquisite touch of the Hindu being so peculiarly adapted to the handling of the finest threads: but it communicates a remarkable susceptibility to the mental organs. The Hindu is a sort of a sensitive plant. His imagination and passions are easily inflamed; and he has a sharpness and quickness of intellect which seems strongly connected with the sensibility of his outward frame.
Another remarkable circumstance in the character of the Hindus; in part, too, no doubt, the effect of corporeal weakness, though an effect in some sort BOOK II. Chap. 7. opposite to that excitability which we have immediately remarked, is the inertness of disposition, with which all men have been so forcibly struck in observing the conduct of this peculiar race. The love of repose reigns in India with more powerful sway, than in any other region probably of the globe. “It is more happy to be seated than to walk; it is more happy to sleep than to be awake; but the happiest of all is death.” Such is one of the favourite sayings, most frequently in the mouths of this listless tribe, and most descriptive of their habitual propensities. Phlegmatic indolence pervades the nation. Few pains, to the mind of a Hindu, are equal to that of bodily exertion; the pleasure must be intense which he prefers to that of its total cessation.1
This listless apathy and corporeal weakness of the natives of Hindustan, have been ascribed to the climate under which they live. But other nations, subject to the influence of as warm a sun, are neither indolent nor weak; the Malays for example, the Arabians, the Chinese.2 The savage is listless and indolent under every clime. In general, this dispositionBOOK II. Chap. 7. must arise from the absence of the motives to work; because the pain of moderate labour is so very gentle, that even feeble pleasures suffice to overcome it; and the pleasures which spring from the fruits of labour are so many and great, that the prospect of them, where allowed to operate, can seldom fail to produce the exertions which they require. There is a state of barbarity and rudeness which implies, perhaps, a weakness of mind too great to be capable of perceiving, with a clearness sufficient to operate upon the will, the benefits of labour. This, however, is a state beyond which the Hindus have long since passed; and there is but one cause, to which, among the Hindus, the absence of the motives for labour can be ascribed; their subjection to a wretched government, under which the fruits of labour were never secure.1
BOOK II. Chap. 7. The languid and slothful habits of the Hindu appear to have prescribed even his amusements and diversions. They are almost all of the sedentary and inactive kind. The game of paucheess, which bears a resemblance to chess and draughts, and is played by two natives, reclining on their sides, with a small chequered carpet placed between them, is the favourite amusement of this indolent race. Wonderful is the patience and interest with which, we are told, they watch and plan the evolutions of this languid game.1 The mind in vacuity droops and pines; even where the body is the most gratified by repose: and in the rude state of society, when interesting objects seldom occur, the passion for play is a general resource. The Hindus, accordingly, appear to have been at all times deeply infected with the vices of gaming. In that celebrated poem, the Mahabarat, Judishter, though celebrated as a model of kingly wisdom, and his four brothers, all eminent men, are represented as losing their fortunes, and their very kingdoms, at dice. The laws, as usual, are ambiguous and contradictory. All gaming is pronounced unlawful; yet, according to the Gentoo Code, parties may game before an agent of the magistrate, to whom in that case a half of the winnings belongs.2
A fondness for those surprising feats of bodily agility and dexterity which form the arts of the tumbler and the juggler, is a feature in the characterBOOK II. Chap. 7. of the Hindu. It is a passive enjoyment which corresponds with the passiveness of his temper; and it seems in general to be adapted to the taste of all men in a similar state of society. Our Saxon ancestors were much addicted to this species of amusement; and their tumblers and jugglers had arrived at great proficiency.1 The passion of the Chinese for those diversions is known to be excessive, and the powers of their performers, almost incredible.2 This was one of the favourite entertainments of the ancient Mexicans; and their surprising dexterity and skill seem hardly to have yielded to that of the Hindus and Chinese. Clavigero concludes a minute and interesting account of the astonishing feats of the Mexican performers, by remarking, that, “the first Spaniards, who were witnesses of these and other exhibitions of the Mexicans, were so much astonished at their agility, that they suspected some supernatural power assisted them, forgetting to make a due allowance for the progress of the human genius when assisted by application and labour.”3
A taste for buffoonery is very generally a part of the character of a rude people; as appears by the buffoons, who, under the name of fools, were entertained by our Gothic ancestors in the courts of princes and the palaces of the great. Among the Hindus, this source of amusement was an object of so much importance, as to become the subject of legislative enactment. “The magistrate,” says the Gentoo Code, “shall retain in his service a great number BOOK II. Chap. 7. of buffoons or parasites, jesters, and dancers, and athletics.”1
Story-telling, which entirely harmonizes with the Hindu tone of mind, is said to be a favourite diversion.2 The recitations of the bards, with which the people of Europe were formerly so much delighted, afforded an entertainment of the same description. The stories of the Hindus consist of the wildest fictions; and as almost all their written narratives are in verse, their spoken stories, it is probable, like the effusions of the bards, contained occasionally more or less of the measure and elevation of verse.3 Music and dancing form a part of their entertainments; the latter, however, they enjoy as spectators chiefly, not performers.
Notwithstanding the indolence and inactivity of the Hindus, hunting, which is in general so favourite a sport of man in his uncivilized state, is capable of calling forth their most strenuous exertions. The different classes seem not only to forget their habitual languor and timidity, but their still more inveterate prejudices of caste, and join together in pursuing the tenants of the woods and mountains with an ardour, enterprise and patience, which no other people can surpass.4
It is curious that avarice, which seems but little consistent with sloth, or that insecurity with regard BOOK II. Chap. 7. to property which so bad a government as theirs implies forms a more remarkable ingredient in the national character of the Hindus, than in that of any other people. It is a passion congenial to a weak and timid mind, unwarmed by the social affections. They are almost universally penurious;1 and where placed in situations in which their insatiable desire of gain can meet with its gratification, it is not easy to surpass their keenness and assiduity in the arts of accumulation.2 “Slavery,” says Mr. Orme, “has sharpened the natural fineness of all the spirits of Asia. From the difficulty of obtaining, and the greater difficulty of preserving, the Gentoos are indefatigable in business, and masters of the most exquisite dissimulation in all affairs of interest. They are the acutest buyers and sellers in the world, and preserve through all their bargains a degree of calmness, which baffles all the arts that can be opposed against it.”3 The BOOK II. Chap. 7. avaricious disposition of the Hindus is deeply stamped in their maxims of prudence and morality. Thus, they say: “From poverty a man cometh to shame. Alas! the want of riches is the foundation of every misfortune.—It is better to dwell in a forest haunted by tigers and lions, than to live amongst relations after the loss of wealth.”1
The mode of transacting bargains among the Hindus is sufficiently peculiar to deserve description. By a refinement of the cunning and deceitful temper of a rude people, the business is performed secretly, by tangible signs. The buyer and seller seat themselves opposite to one another, and covering their hands with a cloth, perform all the most subtile artifices of chaffering, without uttering a word, by means of certain touches and signals of the fingers, which they mutually understand.2
The simplicity of the houses, dress, and furniture of the Hindus correspond with that of their diet. “The Indian houses,” says Sonnerat, “display nothing of oriental magnificence.”1 Those of theBOOK II. Chap. 7. poor, even in towns, are built of mud, sometimes of brick, and thatched. “Brahmens and religious people plaster the pavement, and sometimes the walls, with cow-dung; and although this act proceeds from a spirit of religion, yet it is of use in keeping out insects.”2 The furniture, which is almost nothing in the houses of the poor, is in the highest degree scanty and simple even in those of the rich. Mats or carpets for the floor, on which they are accustomed both to sit and to lie, with a few earthen and other vessels for the preparation of their victuals and for their religious ceremonies, form the inventory in general of their household goods.3
From the frequency and care with which the Hindus perform religious ablutions, the Europeans, prone from partial appearances to draw flattering conclusions, painted them, at first, as in the colours of so many other virtues, so likewise in those of cleanliness. Few nations are surpassed by the Hindus, in the total want of physical purity, in their streets, houses, and persons. Mr. Foster, whose long residence in India, and knowledge of the country, render him an excellent witness, says of the narrow streets of Benares; “In addition to the pernicious effect which must proceed from a confined atmosphere, there is, in the hot BOOK II. Chap. 7. season, an intolerable stench arising from the many pieces of stagnated water dispersed in different quarters of the town. The filth also which is indiscriminately thrown into the streets, and there left exposed, (for the Hindus possess but a small portion of general cleanliness) add to the compound of ill smells so offensive to the European inhabitants of this city.”1 Dr. Buchanan informs us, that “the earthen pots in which the Hindus boil their milk, are in general so nasty, that after this operation no part of the produce of the dairy is tolerable to Europeans, and whatever they use their own servants must prepare.”2 “The Hindoo,” says Mr. Scott Waring, “who bathes constantly in the Ganges, and whose heart equals in purity the whiteness of his vest, will allow this same white robe to drop nearly off with filth before he thinks of changing it. Histories, composed in the closet, of the manners of extensive nations may possess every beauty; for as facts do not restrain the imagination, nor impose rules on poetic license, the fancy of the historian enjoys an uninterrupted range in the regions of fiction.”3
To a superficial view, it appears surprisingBOOK II. Chap. 7. that overstrained sentiments in regard to the ceremonial of behaviour are a mark of the uncivilized state of the human mind. The period when men have but just emerged from barbarism, and have made the first feeble steps in improvement, is the period at which formalities in the intercourse of social life are the most remarkably multiplied, at which the importance attached to them is the greatest, and at which the nice observance of them is the most rigidly exacted. In modern Europe, as manners have refined, and knowledge improved, we have thrown off the punctilious ceremonies which constituted the fine breeding of our ancestors; and adopted more and more of simplicity in the forms of intercourse. Among the inhabitants of Hindustan, the formalities of behaviour are multiplied to excess; and the most important bonds of society are hardly objects of greater reverence.1 Some of their rules breathe that spirit of benevolence, and of respect for the weak, which begins to show BOOK II. Chap. 7. itself partially at an early period of society, and still wants much of its proper strength at a late one. The distinctions of giving way on the road are thus marked in the Gentoo code; a man with sight, to a man blind; a man with hearing to a man deaf; a man to a woman; a man empty-handed to a man with a burthen; an inferior person to a superior; a man in health to a sick person; and all persons to a Brahmen.1 Not a few of their rules bear curious testimony to the unpolished state of society in which they were prescribed. “If a man,” says one of their laws,” having accepted another's invitation, doth not eat at his house, then he shall be obliged to make good all the expense that was incurred in consequence of the invitation.”2 When a Hindu gives an entertainment, he seats himself in the place of greatest distinction; and all the most delicate and costly of the viands are placed before him. The company sit according to their quality, the inferior sort at the greatest distance from the master, each eating of those dishes only which are placed before him, and they continually decreasing in fineness, as they approach the place of the lowest of the guests.3
The attachment which the Hindus, in common with all ignorant nations, bear to astrology, is a part of their manners exerting a strong influence upon the train of their actions. “The Hindus of the present age,” says a partial observer, “do not undertake any affair of consequence without consulting their astrologers, who are always Brahmens.”4 The belief of witchcraft and sorcery continues universally prevalent;BOOK II. Chap. 7. and is every day the cause of the greatest enormities. It not unfrequently happens that Brahmens, tried for murder before the English judges, assign as their motive to the crime, that the murdered individual had enchanted them. No fewer than five unhappy persons in one district were tried and executed for witchcraft, so late as the year 1792. The villagers themselves assume the right of sitting in judgment on this imaginary offence; and their sole instruments of proof are the most wretched of all incantations. Branches of the Saul tree, for example, one for each of the suspected individuals, inscribed with her name, are planted in water. If any of them withers within a certain time, the devoted female, whose name it bears, suffers death as a witch.1
See Laws of Menu, ch. ii. iii. and vi.
See the account of this æra, p. 257 of this volume.
Institutes of Menu, ch. ii. 173.
Ib. ch. ii. 191.
“Let him carry water-pots, flowers, cow-dung, fresh earth, and cusa grass, as much as may be useful to his preceptor.” Ibid. 182.
“The subsistence of a student by begging is held equal to fasting in religious merit.” Ibid. 218. There are numerous precepts respecting the niceties of begging. Ibid. 48 to 50, and 183 to 190.
Institutes of Menu, ch. ii. 109, 112.
When the student is going to read the Veda, he must perform an ablution, as the law ordains, with his face to the north; and at the beginning and end of each lesson, he must clasp both the feet of his preceptor, and read with both his hands closed. “In the presence of his preceptor let him always eat less; and wear a coarser mantle, with worse appendages: let him rise before, and go to rest after his tutor. Let him not answer his teacher's orders, or converse with him, reclining on a bed; nor sitting, nor eating, nor standing, nor with an averted face: But let him both answer and converse, if his preceptor sit, standing up; if he stand, advancing toward him; if he advance, meeting him; if he run, hastening after him; if his face be averted, going round to front him, from left to right; if he be at a little distance, approaching him; if reclined, bending to him; and if he stand ever so far off, running toward him. When his teacher is nigh, let his couch or his bench be always placed low; when his preceptor's eye can observe him, let him not sit carelessly at his ease. Let him never pronounce the mere name of his tutor, even in his absence; by censuring his preceptor, though justly, he will be born an ass. He must not serve his tutor by the intervention of another, while himself stands aloof; nor must he attend him in a passion, nor when a woman is near: from a carriage or raised seat he must descend to salute his heavenly director. Let him not sit with his preceptor to the leeward, or to the windward of him; nor let him say any thing which the venerable man cannot hear.” Institutes of Menu, ch. ii. 70, 71, and 194 to 199, and 201 to 203. Even to the sons and wives of the preceptor must numerous tokens of profound respect be shown, Ibid. 207 to 218. For his general conduct “these following rules,” says Menu, “must a Brahmachari, or student in theology, observe, while he dwells with his preceptor; keeping all his members under control, for the sake of increasing his habitual devotion. Day by day, having bathed and being purified, let him offer fresh water to the gods, the sages, and the manes; let him show respect to the images of the deities, and bring wood for the oblation to fire. Let him abstain from honey, from fleshmeat, from perfumes, from chaplets of flowers, from sweet vegetable juices, from women, from all sweet substances turned acid, and from injury to animated beings; from unguents for his limbs, and from black powder for his eyes, from wearing sandals and carrying an umbrella, from sensual desire, from wrath, from covetousness, from dancing, and from vocal and instrumental music; from gaming, from disputes, from detraction, and from falsehood, from embracing or wantonly looking at women, and from disservice to other men. Let him sleep constantly alone.” Next are forbidden several acts of sensual impurity which are too gross to be described; and the holy text thus again proceeds; “Let him carry water-pots, flowers, cow-dung, fresh earth and cusa grass, as much as may be useful to his preceptor. Having brought logs of wood from a distance, let him place them in the open air; and with them let him make an oblation to fire, without remissness, both evening and morning. Let the scholar, when commanded by his preceptor, and even when he has received no command, always exert himself in reading. Let not the sun ever rise or set while he lies asleep in the village.” Institutes of Menu, ch. ii. 175 to 183, 186, 191, 219.
Institutes of Menu, ch. iii. 1.
Ibid. ii. 243, 244.
Ib. 247, 248. The following modes of living are pointed out to the Brahmen; 1. lawful gleaning and gathering; 2. what is given unasked; 3. what is asked as alms; 4. tillage; 5. traffic and money lending: even by these two last, when distressed, he may live; but service for hire is named dog-living, which he must always avoid, iv. 4, 5, 6. His hair, nails, and beard being clipped; his passions subdued; his mantle white; his body pure; let him diligently occupy himself in reading the Veda. Let him carry a staff of Venu, an ewer with water in it, an handful of cusa grass, or a copy of the Veda: with a pair of bright golden rings in his ears. He must not gaze on the sun, whether rising or setting, or eclipsed, or reflected in water, or advanced to the middle of the sky. Over a string to which a calf is tied, let him not step; nor let him run while it rains; nor let him look on his own image in water: this is a settled rule. By a mound of earth, by a cow, by an idol, by a Brahmen, by a pot of clarified butter or of honey, by a place where four ways meet, and by large trees well known in the district, let him pass with his right hand toward them, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39.
A man is nevertheless forbidden to marry before his elder brother. Ibid. 172. But if among several brothers of the whole blood, one have a son born, Menu pronounces them all fathers of a male child, by means of that son. Ibid. 182. There is a singular importance attached to the having of a son: “By a son a man obtains victory over all people; by a son's son he enjoys immortality; and afterwards by a son of that grandson he reaches the solar abode.” Ibid. 137. Kinsmen, as among the Jews, were allowed to raise up seed to one another. Not only was a widow, left without children, permitted to conceive by a kinsman of her husband; but even before his death, if he was supposed to be attacked by an incurable disease. Ibid. ix. 59, 162, 164. A daughter, too, when a man had no sons, might be appointed for the same purpose. Ibid. 127. In Egypt, in the same manner, a widow left without children cohabited with the brother of the deceased. Recherches Philosoph, sur les Egyptiens et les Chinois, i. 70.
Institutes of Menu, ch. iii. 27 to 34. The crimes implied in the last two cases must have been frequent to make them be distinguished formally in books of sacred law as two species of marriage.
Ibid. 12, 13.
Institutes of Menu, ch. iii. 6 to 10.
This important subject is amply and philosophically illustrated by Professor Millar, in his Inquiry into the Distinction of Ranks, ch. i.
Histoire Generale des Voyages, tom. v. liv. x. ch. iii.
Ibid. tom. vi. liv. xiii. ch. iii. sect. 2, and tom. iv. liv. vii. ch. xiii. sect. 1.
See Inquiry into the Distinction of Ranks, ch. i. sect. 1. They were admitted to inheritance among the Jews plainly as a novelty; and an institution unknown to their neighbours. Numbers, ch. xxvii.
See the authorities quoted by Millar, Distinction of Ranks, ch. i. sect. 1; and Goguet, Origin of Laws, i. 25, 26.
Institutes of Menu, ch. ix. 2.
Ibid. 3, 6.
Ibid. v. 147, 148.
Institutes of Menu, ch. v. 154, 155.
Ibid. ix. 78.
Ibid. ch. viii. 299, 300. Beating their wives is a common discipline. See Buchanan's Journey, i. 247, 249.
Institutes of Menu, ix. 16, 17.
Wilkins’ Hotopadesa, p. 54.
Ibid. p. 78. In Halhed's Code of Gentoo Laws, the character of women is depicted in terms which, were they not strong evidence to an important point, delicacy would forbid to be transcribed: “A woman,” says the law, “is never no more than fire is satisfied with burning fuel, or the main ocean with receiving the rivers, or the empire of death with the dying of men and animals: in these cases therefore a woman is not to be relied on.” (Gentoo Code; ch. xx.) “Women have six qualities; the first an inordinate desire for jewels and fine furniture, handsome clothes, and nice victuals; the second, immoderate lust; the third, violent anger; the fourth, deep resentment; the fifth, another person's good appears evil in their eyes; the sixth, they commit bad actions.” (Ibid.) Six faults are likewise ascribed to women, in the Institutes of Menu, but they are differently stated; “Drinking spirituous liquors, associating with evil persons, absence from her husband, rambling abroad, unseasonable sleep, and dwelling in the house of another, are six faults which bring infamy on a married woman. Such women examine not beauty, nor pay attention to age; whether their lover be handsome or ugly, they think it enough that he is a man, and pursue their pleasures. Through their passion for men, their mutable temper, their want of settled affection, and their perverse nature (let them be guarded in this world ever so well,) they soon become alienated from their husbands.” Institutes of Menu, ch. ix. 13, 14, 15.
See Institutes of Menu, quoted in note 1, p. 386.
Institutes of Menu, ch. ix. 18, 19.
Halhed's Gentoo code, ch. iii. sect. 8.
See ch. iv. p. 214; Menu, ch. iv. 43.
The Hindu women, says Mr. Forster, (Travels, i. 59,) are debarred the use of letters. The Hindus hold the invariable language, that acquired accomplishments are not necessary to the domestic classes of the female sex.
“The husband and wife never eat together; for the Indians consider it as indecent, and contrary to that respect which is due to the former.” Bartolomeo's Travels, book i. ch. 7. Sonnerat says, “The women are ugly, slovenly, and disgusting. The husband does not permit them to eat with him. They are honourable slaves, for whom some regard is entertained.” Voy. liv. iii. ch. i. “So indelicate are the men with respect to the women,” says Mr. Motte, speaking of the province of Sumbhulpoor, “that I have been introduced and obliged to show respect to a man of consequence in the morning, whose wife has in the afternoon brought a load of wood of her own cutting, as much as she could stagger under, and sold it me for a penny.” Motte's Journey to Orissa, Asiatic Annual Register, i. 76. In another part of the same Journey, p. 67, Mr. Motte says, “I was first struck with the sight of women ploughing, while their female children drove the oxen; but this is the practice through the whole mountainous country, while the men, strolling through the forests with a spear and hatchet, plunder every thing they can master. This abuse of the fair sex is characteristic of a barbarous people.”
Halhed's Gentoo code, ch. xx.
See above, p. 386. Even after the death of her husband, if she did not sacrifice herself to his manes, she was held inviolably bound to his memory; and, besides other penances and mortifications of the severest kind, was expressly forbidden to accept of a second husband. Institutes of Menu, ch. v. 157, 158, 162, 163. The same mark of bondage and inferiority was imposed on the Athenian women during the barbarous times of Greece. Goguet, Origin of Laws, ii. 59. Mr. Richardson, who is one of the most nervous in assertion, and the most feeble in proof, of all oriental enthusiasts, maintains that the women enjoyed high consideration among the Arabians and Persians, nay among the very Tartars; so generally was civilization diffused in Asia. In proof, he tells us that the Arabian women “had a right by the laws to the enjoyment of independent property, by inheritance, by gift, by marriage settlement, or by any other mode of acquisition.” The evidence he adduces of these rights is three Arabian words; which signify a marriage portion, paraphernalia in the disposal of the wife, a marriage settlement. (See Richardson's Dissertations on the Languages, Literature, and Manners of Eastern Nations, pp. 198, 331, 479.) But surely a language may possess three words, of the signification which he assigns, and yet the women of the people who use it be in a state of melancholy degradation. In the times of Homer, though a wife was actually purchased from her father, still the father gave with her a dower. Iliad. lib. ix. ver. 147, 148. If the Tartars carry their women with them in their wars, and even consult them, “the north American tribes,” says Mr. Millar, “are often accustomed to admit their women into their public councils, and even to allow them the privilege of being first called to give their opinion upon every subject of deliberation. . . . . Yet,” as he adds immediately after, “there is no country in the world where the female sex are in general more neglected and despised.” See Distinction of Ranks, ch. i sect. 2. From insulated expressions, or facts, no general conclusion can safely be drawn.
Wilkins’ Hetopadesa, p. 248.
Institutes of Menu, ch. iii. 55, 57.
“Let no father who knows the law receive a gratuity, however small, for giving his daughter in marriage; since the man who through avarice takes a gratuity for that purpose, is a seller of his offspring.” Institutes of Menu, ch. iii. 51.
Ibid. ch. ix. 93.
Ibid. viii. 204. Our travellers find direct and avowed purchase still in practice in many parts of India. See Buchanan's Journey through Mysore, &c. i. 247, 249. “To marry, or to buy a wife, are synonymous terms in this country. Almost every parent makes his daughter an article of traffic. This practice of purchasing the young women whom they are to marry, is the inexhaustible source of disputes and litigation, particularly amongst the poorer people. These, after the marriage is solemnized, not finding it convenient to pay the stipulated sum, the father-in-law commences an action,” &c. Description, &c. of the Hindus, by the Abbé Dubois, p. 137. “Apud plerasque tamen gentes dotem maritus uxori, non uxor marito offerebat. Ista sane consuetudo viguit inter Germanos, teste Tacito (de Mor. Germ. cap. 18)—Assyrios, teste Æliano, (Hist. Var. iv. 1)—Babylomos, teste Herodot. (i. 196)—et Armenios, ceu patet ex Nou. xxi. Heineccii Antiquit. Roman. lib. ii. tit. viii. sect. 2.
Institutes of Menu, ch. v. 152. The commentator Culiuca, after the words first gift, by his usual plan, of trying to graft the ideas of a recent period, improved a little by external intercourse, upon the original text, has foisted in the words, or troth plighted, as if that was a gift, or, as if, had that been meant, the legislator would not have rather said troth plighted, than first gift. See what I have observed on the interpolating practices of Culluca, Note A. at the end of the volume, p. 429.
Ibid. ch. ix. 88, 90, 93.
Mr. Forster declares himself to have been at one time of opinion, that the Hindoos had secluded their women from the public view that they might not be exposed to the intemperance of the Mahometan conquerors; but after perceiving, says he, the usage adopted among the sequestered mountaineers, and also among the various independent Mahrattah states, I am induced to think that the exclusion of women from society prevailed in India before the period of the Afgan, or Tartar invasions. Forster's Travels, i. 310.
See a translation of part of the Bhagavat by Mr. Halhed, in Maurice's Hist. of Hindostan, ii. 438.
See Sacontala in Sir William Jones's Works, vi. The rajah of Beejanuggur's harem was kept so close, that not even the nearest relations of the women received in it were ever again permitted to see them. Ferishta's Deccan, by Scott, i. 83. Nor is this mentioned as any thing unusual.
Institutes of Menu, ch. viii. 374 to 385.
Such is the account which Dr. Buchanan received from a number of the most respectable Nairs themselves, whom he assembled for the purpose of inquiring into their manners. See his Journey through Mysore, &c. ii. 411, 412. It was a practice, the continuance of which was highly convenient for the Brahmens, whose power among the inhabitants of that coast was peculiarly great. Ibid. 425. See also Mr. Thackeray's Report, Fifth Report of the Committee on India Affairs, 1810, p. 802.
The reader will find some observations, but evidently incorrect, taken from an Arabian author, by Mr. Duncan, Asiat. Research. v. 12, 13, 14. Dr. Buchanan too makes some remarks, on the modes of the Brahmens. Journey, ut supra, ii. 425; and mentions certain diversities between the manners of the Nairs themselves in the south, and in the north of Malabar, Ibid. 513. See too Bartolomeo's Travels, book ii. ch. ii. and Anquetil Duperron, Zendavesta, Discours Preliminaire, p. cxcvi. Vestiges of the same order of affairs are very widely diffused. Cecrops first instituted marriage among the Greeks; Menes among the Egyptians. Among the Lycians, and even among the ancient inhabitants of Attica, children took their names from their mother, and not from their father. The domestic community of women among the Celtic inhabitants of Britain was a diversity, to which something very similar is said to exist among some of the castes on the coast of Malabar. “There is in the province of Madura,” says the Abbé Dubois, p. 3, “a cast called the Totiyars, in which, brothers, uncles, and nephews, and other kindred, when married, enjoy the wives in common.” Indications of the same state are preserved by the Roman lawyers. In the island of Formosa, where the women contract a marriage for any stipulated period, the husband, during the time of the contract, passes into the family of the wife; a custom, likewise, found among the people called Moxos in Peru. In the Ladrone islands the wife is mistress of the family, turns off the husband when she chooses, and retains the children and property. In the ancient Median empire we are told that the women had several husbands; and the same is the case in some cantons of the Iroquois in North America. See the authorities quoted by Millar, Distinction of Ranks, ch. i. sect. 2. where this part of the subject is illustrated with the usual sagacity of that eminent author. See too Goguet's Origin of Laws, book i. ch. i. art. 1. We are told by Herodotus, that the Massagetæ had their women in common; and a man, when he desired to be private, hung up his quiver at the door of the waggon or travelling tent. Herodot. i. 216. A people in Africa, whom he calls Nasamones, were in like manner without the rite of marriage, and a staff stuck in the ground before the tent was the signal of retirement. Ibid. iv. 172. The reader will probably not be surprised to hear, that the tradition of the casual intercourse of the sexes was preserved among the Indians of Peru. “In short,” (says Garcilasso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries, book i. ch. vii.) “they were altogether savage,” (meaning the inhabitants in their ancient state) “making use of their women as they accidentally met, understanding no property or single enjoyment of them.”—A woman, not married to an individual, but common to all the brothers of a family, is described as the custom of Tibet. See Turner's Embassy.
Dr. Henry, in his chapter on the manners of the Anglo-Saxons, says, “It would be easy to produce many examples of rudeness and indelicacy, that were established by law, and practised, even in courts of justice, (if they were not unbecoming the purity which history ought to preserve) which would hardly be believed in the present age.” Henry's Hist. of Great Britain, iv. 344. He then quotes the following specimen in a note: Si mulier stuprata lege cum viro agere velit, et si vir factum pernegaverit, mulier, membro virili sinistrâ prehenso, et dextrâ reliquils sanctorum impositâ, juret super illas, quod is, per vim, se isto membro vitiaverit. Leges Wallicæ, p. 85.
Naked fakeers travel in pilgrimage about the country, and swarm around the principal temples. It is customary for the women to kiss, and as it were to adore, their secret, or rather public parts.
See the whole Section in Halhed's Gentoo Code, De digito in pudendum muliebre inserendo, or the various passages de concubitu virili, vel etiam concubitu bestiah.
Wilkins’ Hetopadesa, note 82.
A Tour to Sheerez, by Edward Scott Waring, Esq. p. 62. He further says; “The same may be observed of the inhabitants of India, nor will the plea, that the false delicacy of refinement, which disqualifies us from judging of the language of nature, exempt them from censure. If the nakedness of a prostitute be more disgusting than that of an Indian, it must be allowed that their language is infinitely chaster and more refined. There are certain images which must always create disgust and aversion; and although they are familiar in the East, it is by no means evident that they are the images of nature. There may be a refinement on grossness of vice as well as an excess of delicacy, and it does not follow that the one is natural, and the other unnatural. Ibid. See the Missionaries, Ward and Dubois, passim.
Dr. Forster, in a note to Father Paulini's (Bartolomeo) Travels, remarks a great similarity, in many respects, between the manners of the Hindus and those of the Otaheitans.
Ferguson's Essay on Civil Society, part ii. sect. 2. “The Russians” (says Mr. Forster, Travels, ii. 296) “observe to their superiors an extreme submission, and their deportment is blended with a suavity of address and language, which is not warranted by their appearance, or the opinions generally formed of them.” The common people in Russia, says Lord Macartney (Account of Russia by Lord Macartney, in Barrow's Life of that Lord, ii. 30) “are handsome in their persons, easy and unaffected in their behaviour; and though free and manly in their carriage, are obedient and submissive to their superiors, and of a civility and politeness to their equals, which is scarcely to be paralleled.” The following passage is from a work entitled “Travels into the Crimea, [and] a History of the Embassy from St. Petersburgh to Constantinople in 1793, by a Secretary of the Russian Embassy.” “In the course of my rambles I have had frequent occasions of experiencing the politeness of the Turks, which proves to me that this nation is extremely well-disposed and inclined to oblige, and that the climate alone is the cause of the idleness and indifference with which they are reproached. The Turk, when offended, or provoked to jealousy, becomes terrible, and nothing but the blood of his adversary can calm the passion which transports him. During my excursions in the environs of Constantinople I was frequently a witness of the obliging and hospitable propensities of this people. The first Turk 1 applied to when I wanted directions in regard to the road I was to take, always offered himself as a guide, and with the same readiness presented to me a part of his food or refreshment.” “The more the Turks are known, the more they are beloved for their cordiality, their frankness, and their excessive kindness to strangers. I am not afraid to assert, that, in many respects, they may serve as models to my countrymen.” Pp. 201, 237.
It would be easy to produce many testimonies to the propensity of the natives to adulation. Bernier, who speaks of it in the strongest terms, gives us the following amusing instance: “Un Pendet Brahmen que j'avois fait mettre an service de mon Agah, se voulut meler, en entrant, de faire son panegyrique; et, apres l'avoir comparé aux plus grands conquerans qui furent jamais, et lui avoir dit cent grossieres et impertinentes flatteries, concluoit enfin serieusement par celle-cy: Lorsque vous mettez le pied dans l’estrier, Seigneur, et que vous marchez à cheval avec votre cavalerie, la terre tremble sous vos pas, les huit elephans qui la supportent sur leurs tetes ne poavant soutenir ce grand effort. Je ne pus me tenir de rire la dessus, et je tachois de dire serieusement à mon Agah, qui ne pouvoit aussi s’en tenir, qu’il seroit done fort a-propos qu’il ne montat a cheval que fort rarement pour empescher les tremblemens de terre qui causent souvent de si grands malheurs; Aussi est-ce pour cela meme, me repondit-il sans hesiter, que je m’en fais ordinairement porter en paleky.” Bernier, Suite des Memoires sur l’Empire de Grand Mogol, i. 12.
For a strong testimony to the extent to which dissimulation pervades the Hindu character, see Orme, on the Government and People of Hindustan, p. 428. “L’Indien qui vit sous ce gouvernment en suit les impressions. Obligé de ramper il devient fourbe.” Anquetil Duperron, Voy. aux Indes Orien. Zendav. i. ccclxii.
Sir Wm. Jones's Charge to the Grand Jury at Calcutta, June 10, 1787.
Id. June 10, 1785.
Id. 1787.—“La facilité que le peuple de l’Orient ont à mentir,” is given by P. Paulini, as the cause of the trial by ordeal, so common in Hindustan. Voyage aux Indes Orient. par le P. Paulini, (the French edition of Bartolomeo) ii. 103. Mr. Orme says, “The Gentoos are infamous for the want of generosity and gratitude in all the commerces of friendship; they are a tricking, deceitful people, in all their dealings.” (On the Government and People of Hindustan, p. 434.)
Buchanan's Journey through Mysore, &c. i. 167.
Indian Recreations, ii. 329.
Stavorinus’ Voyage, 1768 to 1771; Wilcock's Translation, London, 1798, p. 153. Dr. Tennant explains more fully, that only species of assistance which, according to Stavorinus, a Hindu receives even from his relations. “When a sick person's life is despaired of, he is carried by his relations to the bank of the river; and there, exposed to the storm, or the intense heat of the sun, he is permitted, or rather forced, to resign his breath. His mouth, nose, and ears, are closely stopped with the mud of the river; large vessels of water are kept pouring upon him; and it is amidst the agonies of disease, and the convulsive struggles of suffocation, that the miserable Hindoo bids adieu to his relations, and to his present existence.” (Indian Recreations, i. 108.) Describing the apathy with which, during a famine, the Hindus beheld one another perishing of hunger, Stavorinus says, “In the town of Chinsuiah itself, a poor sick Bengalese, who had laid himself down in the street, without any assistance being offered to him by any body, was attacked in the night by the jackals, and though he had strength enough to cry out for help, no one would leave his own abode to deliver the poor wretch, who was found in the morning half-devoured and dead.” Stavorinus, ut supra, p. 153. It is highly worthy of attention, that the same inhumanity, hard-heartedness, and the greatest insensibility to the feelings of others, is described, as the character of the Chinese. (See Barrow's China, p. 164.)
Le Couteur's Letters from India, London, 1790, p. 320. When the exactions of government press hard, Dr. Tennant says, “the ryuts, (husbandmen) driven to despair, are forced to take up robbery for a subsistence; and when once accustomed to this wandering and irregular life it becomes ever after impossible to reclaim them to industry, or to any sense of moral duty. We had yesterday a melancholy example of the daring profligacy of which they are capable: An officer who rode out only a mile beyond the piquets, was attacked by a party of five horsemen; in the midst of a friendly conversation, one stabbed him in the breast with a spear, which brought him to the ground; then the others robbed him of his watch, his horse, and every article of his clothing. In this naked state he arrived at the piquet, covered with blood; and had he not been able to walk thus far, he must have fared worse than the man who, ‘between Jerusalem and Jericho fell among thieves,’ since here there is no one ‘good samaritan’ to pity the unfortunate.” (Indian Recreations. ii. 375.)
See a celebrated passage of the Mahabarat, translated by Mr. Halhed, in Maurice's Indian Hist. ii. 468.
Wilkins’ Hetopadesa, p. 131.
Gentoo Code, ch. xxi. sect. 10.
Grant on the Hindus, p. 54. Printed by order of the House of Commons, 1812.
Gentoo Code, ch. xxi. sect 10. A very intelligent servant of the East India Company, speaking of the Hindus in a situation where they had hardly ever been exposed to the influence of strangers, Sumbhulpoor, says, “The men are low in stature, but well-made, lazy, treacherous, and cruel. But to these ill qualities of the tiger, the Almighty has also, in his mercy, added the cowardice of that animal; for had they an insensibility of danger, equal to their inclination for mischeif, the rest of mankind would unite to hunt them down.” (Motte's Journey to Orissa, Asiat. An. Reg. i. 76.) “Pestilence or beasts of prey,” says Dr. Buchanan, “are gentle in comparison with Hindu robbers, who, in order to discover concealed property, put to the torture all those who fall into their hands.” (Travels through Mysore, &c. iii. 206.)
Remarquez que les tems les plus superstitieux ont toujours été ceux des plus horribles crimes. (Voltaire, Diction. Philos. Article Superstition.)
La lacheté accompagne ordinairement la mollesse. Aussi l’Indien est-il foible et timide. (Anquetil Duperron Voyage aux Indes Orien. Zendav. p. cxvii.) This timidity admits of degrees. It is in its greatest perfection in Bengal. In the upper provinces, both the corporeal and the mental frame are more hardy. Those of the race who are habituated to the dangers of war acquire, of course, more or less of insensibility to them. Still the feature is not only real, but prominent.
Orme, on the Government and People of Indostan, p. 443.—In the committee of the House of Commons, 1781, on the petition of John Touchet, &c., Charles W. Boughton Rouse, Esqr. testified that “there cannot be a race of men upon earth more litigious and clamorous than the inhabitants of Dacca.” Mr. Park takes notice of the passion of the negroes in Africa for law suits, and adds: “If I may judge from their harangues which I frequently attended, I believe that in the forensic qualifications of procrastination and cavil, and the arts of confounding and perplexing a cause, they are not always surpassed by the ahlest pleaders in Europe.” Park's Travels in Africa, p. 20. Dr. Robertson was sadly mistaken, when he considered the litigious subtlety of the Hindus as a sign of high civilization. See Robertson's Historic. Disq. concerning India, p. 217. Travellers have remarked that no where is this subtlety carried higher than among the wildest of the Irish.
Tenanut's Indian Recreations, i. 123. The following character drawn by a missionary, a man who knew them well, unites most of the particulars which I have hitherto described of the character of this remarkable people. Les Indous sont agiles, adroits, d'un caractere doux, d'un esprit penetrant; ils aiment les phrases et les locutions pittoresques; ils parlent avec elegance, font de longs discours, se decident, dans leurs affaires, avec une lenteur extrême, examinent attentivement, et conçoivent avec facilité; ils sont modestes dans leurs discourse, inconstans dans leurs paroles, faciles a promettre et difficiles à tenir leurs promesses, importuns dans leurs demandes, et ingrats après qu’ils les out obtenu; humble et soumis quand ils craignent, orgueilleux et hautains quand ils sont les plus forts; paisibles et dissimulés quand ils ne peuvent se venger, implacables et vindicatifs des que l’occasion s’en presente. J'ai vu beaucoup de familles se ruiner par des procés devant les tribunaux, seulement par esprit de vengeance.” (Voyage aux Indes Orientales, par le P. Paulini, i. 293.) “Their utmost feuds,” says Fryer, “are determined by the dint of the tongue; to scold lustily, and to pull one another's puckeries or turbats off, being proverbially termed a banyan fight. Nevertheless they are implacable till a secret and sure revenge fall upon their adversary, either by maliciously plotting against their life, by clancular dealings; or estate, by unlawful and unjust extortions.” (Fryer's Travels, let. iii. ch. iii.)
Orme, on the Effeminacy of the Inhabitants of Indostan, p. 461 to 465. Stavorinus’ Voyages, p. 407. There is however considerable variety, as in the stature, so in the strength of the Hindus; and the one, as might be expected, follows the other. The following is a striking and important fact: “In Indostan, the common people of all sorts are a diminutive race, in comparison with those of higher casts and better fortunes; and yield still more to them in all the advantages of physiognomy. There is not a handsomer race in the universe, than the Banians of Guzerat: the Haramcores whose business is to remove all kinds of filth; and the buryers and burners of dead bodies are as remarkably ugly.” Orme, ut supra, p. 463. There cannot be a more convincing proof, that a state of extreme oppression, even of stunted subsistence, has at all times been the wretched lot of the labouring classes in Hindustan.
Orme, on the Government and People of Indostan, p. 470. Forster's Travels, i. 40. The demand of the American tribes for food was very like that of the Hindus, in point of quantity. Roberson's Hist. of America, ii. 63. The contrivances of the American Indians for food were far more ingenious; and productive of more variety, than those of the Hindus, Ibid. p. 118. It would appear from Sacontala, that anciently much scruple was not used in eating flesh. Madhavya, complaining of the hardships he sustained in the hunting party of the king, says, “Are we hungry? We must greedily devour lean venison, and that commonly roasted to a stick.”
Orme, on the Effeminacy of the Inhab. of Indostan, ubi supra.
Tennant's Indian Recreations, i. 15, 55, 102, 215. Forster's Travels, i. 193. “L’Indien est naturellement doux, mais d'une douceur de nonchalance et de paresse.” Anq. Duperron, Zendavesta, Disc. Prelim. p. cxvii.
The Birmans, robust and active, present a striking contrast with the feeble indolence of the Hindus. Vide Syme's Embassy to Ava. “Having witnessed,” says Mr. Forster, “the robust activity of the people of this country (Northern Persia) and Afghanistan, I am induced to think, that the human body may sustain the most laborious services, without the aid of animal food. The Afghan, whose sole aliment is bread, curdled milk and water, inhabiting a climate which often produces in one day, extreme heat and cold, shall undergo as much fatigue, and exert as much strength, as the porter of London, who copiously feeds on fleshmeat, and ale; nor is he subject to the like acute and obstinate disorders. It is a well known fact, that the Arabs of the shore of the Red Sea, who live, with little exception, on dates and lemons, carry burthens of such an extraordinary weight, that its specific mention to an European ear would seem romance.” Forster's Travels, ii. 142, 143.
There is a curious passage, quoted by Volney, (Travels in Syria, ch. xl.) from Hippocrates, in his Treatise de Aere, Locis, et Aquis. “As to the effeminacy and indolence of the Asiatics, says the ancient, if they are less warlike and more gentle in their manners than the Europeans, no doubt the nature of their climate, more temperate than ours, contributes greatly to this difference. But we must not forget their governments which are all despotic, and subject every thing to the arbitrary will of their kings. Men who are not permitted the enjoyment of their natural rights, but whose passions are perpetually under the guidance of their masters, will never be found courageous in battle. To them the risks and advantages of war are by no means equal. But let them combat in their own cause, and reap the reward of their victory, or feel the shame of their defeat, they will no longer be deficient in courage.” Volney remarks that the sluggishness and apathy visible among the Hindus, negroes, &c, is approached, if not equalled, by what is witnessed in Russia, Poland, Hungary, &c. Ibid. “The lower classes of people in India, says Dr. Buchanan, are like children; and except in the more considerable places, where they meet with uncommon encouragement to industry from Europeans, are generally in such a state of apathy, that without the orders of Government, they will hardly do any thing.” Buchanan's Journey through Mysore, &c. i. 270. “If we contemplate a savage nation in any part of the globe, a supine indolence and a carelessness of futurity, will be found to constitute their general character.” Gibbon, i. 356.
Tennant's Indian Recreations, i. 367.
Gentoo Code, chap. i. sect. 1. “So relaxed are the principles even of the richer natives, that actions have been brought by an opulent Hindu for money advanced solely to support a common gaming-house, in the profits of which he had a considerable share; and the transaction was avowed by him with as much confidence, as if it had been perfectly justifiable by our laws and his own.” Charge to the Grand Jury of Calcutta, Dec. 4, 1788. Gaming is remarked as a strong characteristic of the Chinese. See Barrow's Life of Lord Macartney, ii. 415. Travels in China, p. 157. It is a remarkable passion among the Malays. See Marsden's Sumatra.
Turner's Hist. of the Anglo Saxons, book viii. ch. vii.
See Barrow, and other travellers. Bell's Travels, ii. 30.
Clavigero, Hist. of Mexico, book vii. sect. 46.
Gentoo Code, p. 118.
Tennant's Indian Recreations, i. 367.
Story-telling is a common amusement among the negroes of Africa. “These stories,” says Mr. Parke, bear some resemblance to those in the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments; but, in general, are of a more ludicrous cast.” Park's Travels in Africa, p. 31.
Tennant's Indian Recreations, i. 367, and other travellers. Hunting, which delights other men chiefly in their ignorant and uncivilized state, seems to delight kings in all states.
Dr. Buchanan, who bears strong testimony to the prevalence of this disposition among the Hindus, says, the Nairs are a sort of an exception. He ascribes this peculiarity to the peculiar form given among them to the association of the sexes. Journey through Mysore, &c. ii. 411.
The following acute observation of Helvetius goes far to account for it. “Ce que j’observe, c’est qu’il est des pays ou le desir d’immenses richesses devient raisonnable. Ce sont ceux ou les taxes sont arbitraires, et par consequent les possessions incertaines, ou les renversemens de fortune sont frequens; ou, comme en Orient, le prince peut impunément s’emparer des proprietés de ses sujets.—Dans ce pays, si l’on desire les tresors de Ambouleasant, c’est que toujours exposé à les perdre, on espere au moms tirer des debris d'une grande fortune de quoi subsister soi et sa famille. Partout ou la loi sans force ne peut proteger le foible contre le puissant, on puet regarder l’opulence comme un moyen de se soustraire aux injustices, aux vexations du fort, au mepris enfin, compagnon de la foiblesse. On desire donc une grande fortune comme une protectrice et un bouclier contre les oppresseurs.” De l’Homme, sect. viii. chap. v.
Orme, on the Government and People of Indostan, p. 431.—“L’Indien qui vit sous ce gouvernement en suit les impressions. Obligé de ramper, il devient fourbe. ∗ ∗ ∗ Il se permet l'usure et la fraude dans le commerce.” Anquet Duperron, Zendavesta, Disc. Prelim. p. cxvii.—“The chief pleasure of the Gentiles or Banyans is to cheat one another, conceiving therein the highest felicity.” Frayer's Travels, let. iii. chap. iii.
Wilkins’ Hetopadesa, p. 63. The last of these maxims is not less expressive of that want of generosity, which is so strong a feature of the Hindu character. In the ethics, however, of the Hindus, as well as their jurisprudence and theology, contradiction is endless. In the same page with the foregoing is the following maxim; He who, in opposition to his own happiness, delighteth in the accumulation of riches, carrieth burthens for others, and is the vehicle of trouble.” Ibid.
Tennant's Indian Recreations, ii. 232. Lord's Banyan Religion, chap. xxii. The same or a similar mode of transacting bargains is followed in Persia. Chardin, Voyage en Perse, iii. 122. “The merchants, besides being frequently very dexterous in the addition and subtraction of large sums by memory, have a singular method of numeration, by putting their hands into each other's sleeve, and there, touching one another with this or that finger, or with such a particular joint of it, will transact affairs of the greatest value, without speaking to one another, or letting the standers by into the secret.” Shaw's Travels in Barbary, p. 267.
Sonnerat, Voyages, liv. iii. chap. 1.
Sonnerat, Ibid.; Fryer's Travels, let. iv. chap. 6.
P. Paulini, Voy. Indes Orient. liv. i. ch. 7. Fryer, who represents the houses of the Moors, or Musselmen, at Surat, as not deficient even in a sort of magnificence, says, humourously, that “the Banyans” (Hindu merchants, often extremely rich) “for the most part live in humble cells or sheds, crowding three or four families together into an hovel, with goats, cows, and calves, all chamber fellows, that they are almost poisoned with vermin and nastiness; so stupid, that, notwithstanding chints, fleas, and musketoes, torment them every minute, dare not presume to scratch when it itches, lest some relation should be un-tenanted from its miserable abode.” Fryer's Travels, let. iii. chap. i.
Forester's Travels, i. 32. Of Lucknow too, he remarks, the streets are narrow, aneven, and almost choaked up with every species of filth. Ibid. p. 82. Speaking of Serinagur, he says, “The streets are choaked with the filth of the inhabitants, who are proverbially unclean.” Ibid. See to the same purpose, Rennel's Description of an Indian Town, Memoir, p. 58.
Buchanan's Journey through Mysore, &c. ii. 14. He remarks, too, iii. 341, that the unwholesomeness of the water in many places is, “in part, to be attributed to the common nastiness of the Hindus, who wash their clothes, bodies, and cattle, in the very tanks or wells from which they take their own drink; and, wherever the water is scanty, it becomes from this cause extremely disgusting to a European.”
Tour to Sheeraz, by Ed. Scott Waring, p. 59, note.—“Their nastiness,” says Dr. Buchanan, “is disgusting; very few of the inhabitants above the Ghats being free from the itch; and their linen being almost always dyed, is seldom washed.” Travels through Mysore, &c. i. 135.—See, too, Capt. Hardwicke, Asiat. Res. vi. 330. The authors of the Universal History describe with pure and picturesque simplicity one pretty remarkable custom of the Hindus. “The women scruple no more than the men to do their occasions in the public streets or highways: for which purpose at sun-rise and sun-set, they go out in droves to some dead wall, if in the city; and in case any pass by in the interim, they turn their bare backsides on them, but hide their faces. When they have done their business, they wash their parts with the left hand, because they eat with the right. The men, who exoncrate apart from the women, squat like them when they make water. Ahhough their food is nothing but vegetables concocted with fair water, yet they leave such a stink behind them, that it is but ill taking the air, either in the streets, or without the towns, near the rivers and ditches.” vi. 263. Yet these authors, with the same breath, assure us that the Hindus are a cleanly people, because, and this is their sole reason, they wash before and after meals, and leave no hair on their bodies. Ibid. See to the same purpose, Fryer's Travels, let. iv. chap. vi.
See a curious description of the excess to which the minute frivolities of behaviour are carried both among the Moors and Hindus, by Mr. Orme, on the Government and People of Indostan, pp. 425 and 431. See, also, Laws of Menu, ch. ii. 120 to 139.
Gentoo Code, ch. xxi. sect. 10.
Tennant's Indian Recreations, i. 254.
Wilkins’ Hetopadesa, note, p. 269. The unceremonious Fryer says, the principal science of the Brahmen is magic and astrology. Travels, let. iv. ch. vi. Of the astonishing degree to which the Indians of all descriptions are devoted to astrology, see a lively description by Bernier, Suite des Memoires sur l’Empire de Grand Mogol, i. 12 à 14. “Les rois, et les seigneurs,” says he, “qui n’entreprendroient la moindre chose qui’ils n’eussent consultez les astrologues, leur donnent de grands appointments pour lire ce qui est ecrit dans le ciel.” Ibid. “The savages,” says Mallet, (Introd. to the Hist. of Denmark, i. ch. i.) “whom the Danes have found on the coast of Greenland, live with great union and tranquillity. They are neither quarrelsome, nor mischievous, nor warlike; being greatly afraid of those that are. Theft, blows, and murder, are almost unknown to them. They are chaste before marriage, and love their children tenderly. Their simplicity hath not been able to preserve them from having priests, who pass among them for enchanters; and are in truth very great and dexterous cheats.”
See an account of this shocking part of the manners of the Hindus in the Asiat. An. Regist. for 1801, Miscellaneous Tracts, p. 91.