Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. X. - The History of British India, vol. 2
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CHAP. X. - James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 2 
The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 2.
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TO ascertain the true state of the Hindus in theBOOK II. Chap. 10. scale of civilization, is not only an object of curiosity in the history of human nature; but to the people of Great Britain, charged as they are with the government of that great portion of the human species, it is an object of the highest practical importance. No scheme of government can happily conduce to the ends of government, unless it is adapted to the state of the people for whose use it is intended. In those diversities in the state of civilization, which approach the extremes, this truth is universally acknowledged. Should any one propose, for a band of roving Tartars, the regulations adapted to the happiness of a regular and polished society, he would meet with neglect or derision. The inconveniences are only more concealed and more or less diminished, when the error relates to states of society which more nearly resemble one another. If the mistake in regard to Hindu society, committed by the British nation, and the British government, be very great; if they have conceived the Hindus to be a people of high civilization, while they have in reality made but a few of the earliest steps in the progress to civilization, it is impossible that in many of the measures pursued for the government of that people, the mark aimed at should not have been wrong.
The preceding induction of particulars, embracing BOOK II. Chap. 10.the religion, the laws, the government, the manners, the arts, the sciences, and literature, of the Hindus, affords, it is presumed, the materials from which a correct judgment may, at last, be formed of their progress toward the high attainments of civilized life. That induction, and the comparisons to which it led, have occupied us long, but not longer, it is hoped, than the importance of the subject demanded, and the obstinacy of the mistakes which it was the object of it to remove.
The reports of a high state of civilization in the East were common even among the civilized nations of ancient Europe. But the acquaintance of the Greeks and Romans with any of the nations of Asia, except the Persians alone, was so imperfect, and among the circumstances which they state so many are incredible and ridiculous, that in the information we receive from them on this subject, no confidence can be reposed.
Of the modern Europeans, the individuals who first obtained a tolerable acquaintance with any of the nations of the East, were the popish missionaries, chiefly the Jesuits, who selected China for the scene of their apostolical labours. Visiting a people who already composed a vast society, and exhibited many, though fallacious, marks of riches, while Europe as yet was every where poor; and feeling, as it was natural for them to feel, that the more they could excite among their countrymen an admiration of the people whom they described, the greater would be the portion of that flattering sentiment, which would redound upon themselves, these missionaries were eager to conceive, and still more eager to propagate, the most hyperbolical ideas of the arts, the sciences, and institutions of the Chinese. As it is almost always more pleasing, and certainly far more easy, to believe, than to scrutinize; and as the human mind in Europe, at BOOK II. Chap. 10.the time when these accounts were first presented, was much less powerful, and penetrating, than it is at present, they were received with almost implicit credulity. The influence of this first impression lasted so long, that even to Voltaire, a keen-eyed and sceptical judge, the Chinese, of almost all nations, are the objects of the loudest and most unqualified praise.1 The state of belief in Europe has, through the scrutiny of facts, been of late approximating to sobriety on the attainments of the Chinese, and a short period longer will probably reduce it to the scale of reason and fact.2
It was under circumstances highly similar, that the earliest of the modern travellers drew up and presented their accounts of Hindustan. The empire of the Moguls was in its meridian splendour. It extended over the principal part of India; and the court, the army, and the establishments of Akber or Aurungzebe, exhibited that gorgeous exterior, that air of grandeur and power, which were well calculated to impose upon the imagination of an unphilosophical observer.3
BOOK II. Chap. 10.It was unfortunate that a mind so pure, so warm in the pursuit of truth, and so devoted to oriental learning, as that of Sir William Jones, should have adopted the hypothesis of a high state of civilization in the principal countries of Asia. This he supported with all the advantages of an imposing manner, and a brilliant reputation; and gained for it so great a credit, that for a time it would have been very difficult to obtain a hearing against it.
Beside the illusions with which the fancy magnifies the importance of a favourite pursuit, Sir William was actuated by the virtuous design of exalting the Hindus in the eyes of their European masters; and thence ameliorating the temper of the government; while his mind had scope for error in the vague and indeterminate notions which it still retained of the signs of social improvement. The term civilization was by him, as by most men, attached to no fixed and definite assemblage of ideas. With the exception of some of the lowest states of society in which human beings have been found, it was applied to nations in all the stages of social advancement.1
It is not easy to describe the characteristics of the different stages of social progress. It is not from one feature, or from two, that a just conclusion can be drawn. In these it sometimes happens that nations resemble BOOK II. Chap. 10.which are placed at stages considerably remote. It is from a joint view of all the great circumstances taken together, that their progress can be ascertained; and it is from an accurate comparison, grounded on these general views, that a scale of civilization can be formed, on which the relative position of nations may be accurately marked.
Notwithstanding all that modern philosophy had performed for the elucidation of history, very little had been attempted in this great department, at the time when the notions of Sir William Jones were formed;1 and so crude were his ideas on the subject, that the rhapsodies of Rousseau on the virtue and happiness of the savage life surpass not the panegyrics BOOK II. Chap. 10.of Sir William on the wild, comfortless, predatory, and ferocious state of the wandering Arabs. “Except,” says he, “when their tribes are engaged in war, they spend their days in watching their flocks and camels, or in repeating their native songs, which they pour out almost extempore, professing a contempt for the stately pillars and solemn buildings of the cities, compared with the natural charms of the country, and the coolness of their tents: thus they pass their lives in the highest pleasure of which they have any conception, in the contemplation of the most delightful objects, and in the enjoyment of perpetual spring.”1 “If courtesy,” he observes, “and urbanity, a love of poetry and eloquence, and the practice of exalted virtues, be a just measure of perfect society, we have certain proof that the people of Arabia, both on plains and in cities, in republican and monarchical states, were eminently civilized for many ages before their conquest of Persia.”2 We need not wonder if the man, who wrote and delivered this, found the Hindus arrived at the highest civilization. Yet the very same author, in the very same discourse, and speaking of the same people, declared, “I find no trace among them till their emigration of any philosophy but ethics;”3 and even of this he says, “The distinguishing virtues which they boasted of inculcating, were a contempt of riches and even of death; but in the age of the seven poets, their liberality had deviated into mad profusion, their courage into ferocity, and their patience into an obstinate spirit of encountering fruitless dangers.”9 He adds; “The only arts in which they pretended to excellence (I except horsemanship and military accomplishments) wereBOOK II. Chap. 10.poetry and rhetoric.”1 It can hardly be affirmed that these facts are less than wonderful as regarding a people “eminently civilized;” a people exhibiting “a just measure of perfect society.”2
BOOK II. Chap. 10.Among the causes which excited to the tone of eulogy adopted with regard to the Hindus, one undoubtedly was, the affectation of candour. Of rude and uncultivated nations, and also of rude and uncultivated individuals, it is a characteristic, to admire only the system of manners, of ideas, and of institutions to which they have been accustomed, despising others. The most cultivated nations of Europe had but recently discovered the weakness of this propensity: Novelty rendered exemption from it a source of distinction: To prove his superiority to the prejudices of home, by admiring and applauding the manners and institutions of Asia, became, therefore, in the breast of the traveller, a motive of no inconsiderable BOOK II. Chap. 10.power.1
The nations of Europe became acquainted nearly about the same period, with the people of America, and the people of Hindustan. Having contemplated in the one, a people without fixed habitations, without political institutions, and with hardly any other arts than those indispensably necessary for the preservation of existence, they hastily concluded, upon the sight of another people, inhabiting great cities, cultivating the soil, connected together by an artificial system of subordination, exhibiting monuments of great antiquity, cultivating a species of literature, exercising arts and obeying a monarch whose sway was extensive, and his court magnificent, that they had suddenly passed from the one extreme of civilization to the other. The Hindus were compared with the savages of America; the circumstances in which they differed from that barbarous people, were the circumstances in which they corresponded with the most cultivated nations; other circumstances were overlooked; and it seems to have been little suspected that conclusions too favourable could possibly be drawn.2
The progress of knowledge, and the force of observation, demonstrated the necessity of regarding the actual state of the Hindus as little removed from that of half-civilised nations. The saving hypothesis, however, was immediately adopted, that the situation in which the Hindus are now beheld is a state of degradation; that formerly they were in a state of high civilization; from which they had fallen through the miseries of foreign conquest, and subjugation.
This was a theory invented to preserve as much as actual observation would allow to be preserved, of a pre-established and favourite creed. It was not an inference from what was already known. It was a gratuitous assumption. It preceded inquiry, and no inquiry was welcome, but that which yielded matter for its support.1
To this purpose were adapted the pretensions of the Brahmens, who spoke of an antecedent period, BOOK II. Chap. 10.when the sovereigns of Hindustan were masters of great power and great magnificence. It was of importance to weigh these pretensions; because the rude writers of rude nations have almost always spoken of antecedent times as deserving all the praise with which their powers of rhetoric or song could exalt them. If the descriptions of antiquity presented by the Brahmens bore the consistent marks of truth and reality, a degree of intrinsic evidence would be attached to them. If these descriptions flew wide of all resemblance to human affairs, and were nothing but wild unnatural fictions, they would be so far from proving an antecedent state of knowledge and civilization, that they would prove the reverse. And, had the Hindus remained fixed from the earliest ages in the semibarbarous state, it is most certain that the Brahmens would have given to us just such accounts of antiquity as those we have actually received at their hands.
As the Hindus have enlightened us by no record of antecedent events, and we thus have no immediate proof of their state of civilization, in the times that are past, the only sure ground of inference is the laws and institutions which they framed, the manners they adopted, and the arts and sciences to which they attended. If these great circumstances were at variance with the existing state of society, but adapted to one more advanced, the inference would certainly be a probable one, that to a period when society was in that improved condition, they really owed their birth. But in regard to the Hindus, their laws and institutions are adapted to the very state of society which those who visit them now behold. They are laws and institutions which, so far from importing any more perfect state of society, seem entirely inconsistent BOOK II. Chap. 10.with it; such as could neither begin, nor exist, under any other than one of the rudest and weakest states of the human mind. As the manners, the arts and sciences of the ancient Hindus are entirely correspondent with the state of their laws and institutions, every thing we know of the ancient state of Hindustan conspires to prove that it was rude.
It is another important fact, that, if the Hindus had ever been placed in this pretended state of civilization, we know of no such period of calamity, as was sufficient to reduce them to a state of ignorance and barbarity. The conquest of Hindustan, effected by the Mahomedan nations, was to no extraordinary degree sanguinary or destructive. It substituted sovereigns of one race to sovereigns of another, and mixed with the old inhabitants a small proportion of new; but it altered not the texture of society; it altered not the language of the country; the original inhabitants remained the occupants of the soil; they continued to be governed by their own laws and institutions; nay, the whole detail of administration, with the exception of the army, and a few of the more prominent situations, remained invariably in the hands of the native magistrates and officers.2 The few occasions of the persecution, to which, under the reigns of one or two bigoted sovereigns, they were subjected on the score of religion, were too short and too partial to produce any considerable effects.16
When we look for the particulars of those pretended BOOK II. Chap. 10.reigns of mighty kings, the universal lords of India, under whom science flourished, and civilization rose to the greatest height, we meet with nothing but fable, more wild, and inconsistent, and hyperbolical, than is any where else to be found. From this no rational conclusion can be drawn, except that it is the production of a rude and irrational age. Bharat, or Bharata, is said to have been the first universal sovereign of India, which from him derived its name; India being, in the language of the natives, Bharata Versh. In this, however, as usual, the Hindu accounts contradict themselves, since Bharat is represented BOOK II. Chap. 10.as preceding Rama, the son of Cush, who, according to Sir William Jones, might have established the first regular government in India.1 Judhishter is another of these universal sovereigns; but of him even the origin is allegorical; he is the son of Dherma, or the god of justice, and he reigned 27,000 years. The name, with which, chiefly, the idea of the universal sovereignship of India, and the glory of art and science, is combined, is that of Vicramaditya. Of him, let us hear what is represented; and then we shall be enabled to judge. “The two periods,” says Captain Wilford, “of Vicrama’ditya and Saliva’ha’na are intimately connected; and the accounts we have of these two extraordinary personages are much confused, teeming with contradictions and absurdities to a surprising degree. In general the Hindus know but of one Vicrama’ditya; but the learned acknowledge four; and when, at my request, they produced written authorities, I was greatly surprised to find no less than eight or nine. —Vicrama’ditya made a desperate tapasya, in order to obtain power and a long life from Ca’li’devi, and as she seemingly continued deaf to his entreaties, he was going to cut off his own head, when she appeared, and granted him undisturbed sway over all the world for one thousand years, after which a divine child, born of a virgin, and the son of the great Tacshaca, carpenter or artist, would deprive him both of his kingdom and of his life. This would happen in the year of the Cali yug, 3101, answering to the first of the Christian era. The history of these nine worthies, but more particularly when considered as a single individual, is a most crude and undigested mass of heterogeneous legends, taken from the apocryphal gospel of the infancy of Christ, the tales of the Rabbis and Talmudists concerning Solomon, with some particulars BOOK II. Chap. 10.about Muhammed; and the whole is jumbled together with some of the principal features of the history of the Persian kings of the Sassanian dynasty. Thus Vicrama is made contemporary with Solomon; and like him, he is said to have found the great mantra, spell or talisman; through which he ruled over the elements, and spirits of all denominations, who obeyed him like slaves. Like Solomon he had a most wonderful throne, supported and adorned with lions, who are endued with reason and speech. We read in the Vetala-pancha-vinsati, that it was through the assistance of the great Vetala, or devil, that two Vicrama’dityas obtained the empire of the world, a long life, with unlimited sway. They performed the pújá in his honour, offered sacrifices, and in short dedicated or gave themselves up to him.”1 On this foundation of historical matter is built the magnificent fabric of a great and universal monarchy, the reign of the arts and sciences, all that embellishes human life, and augments the human powers. Such being the premises, and such the conclusion, are they not admirably adapted to one another? The legend speaks, and that loudly, and distinctly, what it is; the creation of a rude and uncultivated fancy, exerting itself to rouse the wonder of a rude and uncultivated age, by a recital of actions, powers, and events, swelled beyond the measure of human nature; profiting by all the hints which the legends or history of other nations supplied to furnish out its story, and by appropriating the wonderful deeds of all the world to gratify the barbarous vanity of the people to whom the story was addressed. If the historian gave to his hero a reign of a thousand years; it was quite in the same temper, and conducive BOOK II. Chap. 10.to the same end, to give him the sovereignty of all India; and not only of all India, but, as we see was the fact, the sovereignty of the whole world. This is precisely the course which a wild and ignorant mind, regarding only the wonder which it has it in view to excite, naturally, in such cases, and almost universally, pursues. Such legends, if they existed in myriads, are no more a proof of a monarchy common to all India, which they do not assert, than of the universal monarchy of the whole world, or of the thousands or the myriads of years to one reign, which they expressly assert.1
The very lists which are found in the books of the Hindus, filled up with the names of successive monarchs, Mr. Wilford assures us, are the creation of the fancies of the writers, and are formed without any reference to facts. In enumerating the authorities, from which he drew his materials, in the essay on Vicramaditya and Salivahana, he says, “The fourth list has been translated into all the dialects of India, and new-modelled at least twenty different ways, according to the whims and pre-conceived ideas of every individual, who chose to meddle with it. It is, however, the basis and ground work of modern history among the Hindus; as in the Khulásetul Tuwarie, BOOK II. Chap. 10.and the Tadkeratussulatin. The latter treatise is a most perfect specimen of the manner of writing history in India; for, excepting the above list, almost every thing else is the production of the fertile genius of the compiler. In all these lists the compilers and revisers seem to have had no other object in view, but to adjust a certain number of remarkable epochs. This being once effected, the intermediate spaces are filled up with names of kings not to be found any where else, and most probably fanciful. Otherwise they leave out the names of those kings of whom nothing is recorded, and attribute the years of their reign in some among them better known, and of greater fame. They often do not scruple to transpose some of those kings, and even whole dynasties; either in consequence of some pre-conceived opinion, or owing to their mistaking a famous king for another of the same name. It was not uncommon with ancient writers, to pass from a remote ancestor to a remote descendant; or from a remote predecessor to a remote successor, by leaving out the intermediate generations or successions, and sometimes ascribing the years of their reigns to a remote successor or predecessor. In this manner the lists of the ancient kings of Persia, both by oriental writers, and others in the west, have been compiled: and some instances of this nature might be produced from Scripture. I was acquainted lately, at Benares, with a chronicler of that sort; and in the several conversations I had with him, he candidly acknowledged, that he filled up the intermediate spaces between the reigns of famous kings, with names at a venture; that he shortened or lengthened their reigns at pleasure; and that it was understood, that his predecessors had taken the same liberties. Through their emendations BOOK II. Chap. 10.and corrections, you see plainly a total want of historical knowledge and criticism; and sometimes some disingenuity is but too obvious. This is, however, the case with the sections on futurity in the Bhagavat, Vaya, Vishu, and Brahmanda Puranas; which with the above lists constitute the whole stock of historical knowledge among the Hindus; and the whole might be comprised in a few quarto pages of print.”1
Such is the mode, in which the authors of the Puranas supply themselves with a convenient quantity of ordinary kings: Mr. Wilford affords most satisfactory information with regard to the manner in which they further supply themselves with extraordinary ones. “The propensity,” says he, “of the Hindus, to appropriate every thing to themselves, is well known. We have noticed before their claims to Bahram-Gῦr and his descendants; and in the same manner they insist that Acbar was a Hindu in a former generation. The proximity of the time, in which this famous emperor lived, has forced them, however, to account for this in the following manner. There was a holy Brahmen, who wished very much to become emperor of India; and the only practicable way for him was to die first, and be born again. For this purpose be made a desperate Tapasya, wishing to remember then every thing he knew in his present generation. This could not be fully granted; but he was indulged with writing upon a brass plate a few things which he wished more particularly to remember; then he was directed to bury the plate, and promised that he would remember the place in the next generation. Mucunda, for such was his name, went to Allahabad, buried the plate, and then burned himself. Nine months after he was born in theBOOK II. Chap. 10.character of Acbar, who, as soon as he ascended the throne, went to Allahabad, and easily found the spot where the brass plate was buried. Thus the Hindus claim Muhammed and Acbar as their own; exactly like the Persians of old, who insisted that Alexander was the son of one of their kings; so that after all they were forced to submit to their countrymen only.”1
The account of the claim to Bahram-Gῦr, mentioned in the beginning of the preceding passage, is extremely important on the present occasion; as it shows us that Vicramaditya, whom the legend makes sovereign of the world, and the believers in the great Hindu monarchy take for emperor of Hindustan, was in reality a King of Persia, borrowed by the Brahmens, from their propensity to appropriate every thing remarkable which they heard of in the world. “One of these Vicramas,” says Mr. Wilford, speaking of the different persons in whom this Vicramaditya appears, “was really a Sassanian Prince: and the famous Shabour or Sapor, of that dynasty, who took the emperor Valens prisoner.”2 The story is as follows: “In Gurjjara-mandalam are the Sabharamati and Mahi rivers; between them is a forest, in which resided Tamralipta-rĭshi, whose daughter married King Tamrasena. They had six male children and one daughter called Mandava-rec’ha. The King had two young lads, called Devas’arma and Havis’arma, whose duty chiefly was to wash, every day, the clothes of their master, in the waters of the nearest river. One day, as Devas’arma went, by himself, for that purpose, he heard a voice, saying, BOOK II. Chap. 10.Tell King Tamrasena to give me his daughter; should he refuse me he will repent it. The lad on his return mentioned the whole to his master; who would not believe it, and the next day sent Havis’arma to the river, who heard the same voice also, with the threats in case of a refusal. The King was astonished; and going himself heard the voice also. On his return he assembled his council; and after consulting together, it was agreed, that the King should go again, and ask him who he was. The supposed spirit being questioned, answered, I am a Gand’harva, or heavenly choirister; who, having incurred Indra’s displeasure, was doomed to assume the shape of an ass. I was born in that shape, in the house of a cumbhacara, or potter, in your capital city; and I am daily roving about in quest of food. The King said that he was very willing to give him his daughter; but that he conceived that such an union was altogether impossible while he remained in that shape. The Gand’harva said, Trouble not yourself about that; comply with my request, and it shall be well with you. If, says the King, you are so powerful, turn the walls of my city, and those of the houses, into brass; and let it be done before sun-rise to-morrow. The Gand’harva agreed to it, and the whole was completed by the appointed time; and the King of course gave him his daughter. This Gand’harva’s name was Jayanta, the son of Brahma. When cursed by Indra, he humbled himself; and Indra relenting, allowed him to resume his human shape in the night time; telling him that the curse should not be done away, till somebody had burned his ass-like frame. The mother of the damsel spied them once in the night; and, to her great joy, found that the Gand’harva dallied with her daughter in a human shape. Rejoiced at this discovery, she looked for his ass-like form, and burned it. Early in the morning,BOOK II. Chap. 10.the Gand’harva looked for this body of his, and found that it had been destroyed. He returned immediately to his wife, informing her of what had happened, and that his curse being at an end, he was obliged to return to heaven, and leave her. He informed her also that she was with child by him, and that the name of the child was to be Vicramaditya.”1 After the statement of some other particulars, Mr. Wilford says; “This is obviously the history of Yesdegird, son of Bahram-Gῦr, or Bahram the ass, King of Persia: the grand features are the same, and the times coincide perfectly. The amours of Bahram-Gῦr, with an Indian princess, are famous all over Persia, as well as in India.”2 Such are the accounts of Vicramaditya, from which we are called upon for our belief of an universal monarchy, and a period of civilization and knowledge.3
BOOK II. Chap. 10.Our experience of human nature, and the phenomena which are exhibited under the manners, attainments, and institutions of the Hindus, are the onlyBOOK II. Chap. 10.materials from which a rational inference can be drawn. It is by no means impossible for a people, who have passed but a small number of stages in the career of civilization, to be united, extensively, under one government, and to remain steady for a great length of time in that situation. The empire of China is one conspicuous proof; the ancient kingdom of Persia, which for several ages stood exempt from revolution, is another. The Ottoman empire may be considered as a similar instance. And the Russians, a BOOK II. Chap. 10.barbarous people, have long formed a very extensive monarchy. It would, therefore, be far from evidence of any higher civilization, among the Hindus, than what they now manifest, had the existence of a great monarchy been proved. Among uncivilized nations, however, it is most common to find a perpetual succession of revolutions, and communities in general small; though sometimes a prince or individual with uncommon talents arises; and, acquiring power, extends his authority over several of those communities; or even, as in the case of Charlemagne, over a great number; while, after his death, the large empire which he had erected gradually dissolves, till the whole, or the greater part, is re-divided into small communities as before. Every thing which the Europeans have seen in Hindustan conspires to prove that such subdivision of communities, and occasional and temporary extensions of power in particular hands, have composed the history of that country. The Mahratta empire affords a striking example of those changes which seem natural to the circumstances in which the people are placed. Within the period of the modern intercourse of the Europeans with Hindustan, an aspiring individual was enabled to extend his authority, partly by persuasion, partly by force, first over one district, and then over another, till at last he united under his command an extensive empire, composed chiefly of the separate and disjointed communities, who occupied the mountainous districts in the western and central parts of Hindustan.1 Soon was this empire broken into several different governments, the owners of which hardly acknowledged even a nominalBOOK II. Chap. 10.homage to the throne of Sevagee; and had they been left to themselves, free from the irresistible operation of the British power, the empire of the Mahrattas, in all probability, would have been resolved, ere this time, into its primitive elements. Even the empire of the Moguls, itself; though erected on firmer foundations than it is reasonable to suppose that any Hindu monarchy ever enjoyed; though supported by a foreign force; and acted upon by peculiar motives for maintaining undivided power, had no sooner attained its greatest extension by the conquests of Aurungzebe, than it began immediately to fall to pieces; and a single century beheld it in fragments.
The monuments of the ancient state of Hindustan conspire in giving indication of a troubled scene. Every ancient writing, which bears any reference to the matter of history, the historical poems, the Puranas, hold up to view a state of society, the reverse of tranquil; perpetual broils, dethronements, injustice, wars, conquests, and bloodshed. Among the most important of all the documents of antiquity found in Hindustan, are the inscriptions, declaratory of grants of land, made by the ancient princes of the country. These princes are so far from appearing to have presided over a peaceful land, that they are all represented, as victorious warriors; and as having been surrounded by enemies, over whom they have triumphed, and whom they have severely chastised.1 Almost all the princes mentioned in these inscriptions, BOOK II. Chap. 10.princes in all the parts of India, and not pretended to have been more than the sovereigns of some particular district, are described as the conquerors and sovereigns of the whole world.1
Of the unsparing and destructive cruelty which accompanied the perpetual wars and conquests of the Hindus, among other proofs, the following may be considered as strong. In the inscription found at Tanna, part of the panegyric bestowed upon the donor Prince, is in these words; “Having raised up his slain foe on his sharp sword, he so afflicted the women in the hostile palaces, that their forelocks fell disordered, their garlands of bright flowers dropped from their necks on the vases of their breasts, and the black lustre of their eyes disappeared; a warrior, the plant of whose fame grows up over the temple of Brahma’s egg [the universe] from the-repeated-watering-of-it-with-the-drops-that-fell-from-the-eyes-of-the-wives-of-his-slaughtered-foe.”2 It would be in the highest degree absurd to reject this, were it even a solitary instance, as evidence of a general fact; because the exterminating ferocity is described as matter of the highest praise; and panegyric, to be what it is, must be conformable to the ideas of the people to whom it is addressed.30
The picture which Major Rennel, looking only to a limited period, drew of the state of Hindustan, may be taken, agreeably to every thing which we know BOOK II. Chap. 10.of Hindustan, as the picture of it, to the remotest period of its history. Rebellions, massacres, and barbarous conquests, make up the history of this fair country, (which to an ordinary observer seems destined to be the paradise of the world,)—the immediate effect of the mad ambition of conquering more than can be governed by one man.”1 “Revolutions,” (says Sonnerat, directing his attention to the coast of Malabar, which had been little affected by foreign conquest) “have been more rapid in this than in any other part of the globe. A daring robber, possessed BOOK II. Chap. 10.of policy and courage, in a short time gives laws to the whole coast, but in his turn becomes tributary to a bolder villain, who marching in the same path, subjects him to that lot he had inflicted on others.”1
Notwithstanding, in other respects, the extreme scantiness and uncertainty of the materials for any inferences except the most general, in regard to the ancient state of Hindustan, there is a great body of evidence to prove the habitual division of the country into a number of moderate, and most frequently, petty sovereignties and states.2 In the dramatic poem Sacontala, the daughter of the hermit asks the royal stranger, who had visited their consecrated grove; “What imperial family is embellished by our noble guest? What is his native country? Surely it must be afflicted by his absence from it?” The question undoubtedly implied that there were more royal families than one to which he might belong; and these at no remarkable distance; since the stranger was known to have come into the forest in the course of a hunting excursion. In the Hetopadesa mentionBOOK II. Chap. 10. is made of a variety of princes. Thus in the compass of a few pages, we are told; “In the country of Calinga is a prince, named Rucmangada, who, advancing with preparations to subdue the adjacent regions, has fixed his station near the river Chandrabhaga.”2 Again, “In the country of Canyacuja is a prince named Virasena.”2 And further, “There is near the Bhagirathi a city, named Pataliputra, in which lived a prince named Sundersana.”3 In the inscription, formerly quoted, found at Monghir, and bearing date 23 years B. C. there is sufficient proof of the division of Hindustan into numerous kingdoms. Gopaal, the prince or the father of the prince by whom the grant is made, is panegyrized as the conqueror of many princes; and his son is, “He, who marching through many countries, making conquests, arrived with his elephants, in the forests of the mountains Beendhyo, where seeing again their longlost families, they mixed their mutual tears; and who going to subdue other princes, his young horses meeting their females at Komboge, they mutually neighed for joy:—who conquered the earth from the source of the Ganges as far as the well-known bridge which was constructed by the enemy of Dosaesyo, from the river of Luckeecool as far as the ocean of the habitation of Booroon.”4 If this prince overran the peninsula, and conquered a multitude of princes, the peninsula must have been possessed by a multitude of princes before. And we may form an idea of the exaggeration used in the account of his victories, when we are told that his father Gopaal was king of the world, and possessed of two brides, the earth and her wealth.5 The conquests by those princes, even when they took place, were but inroads, never to any considerable extent, effecting a durable possession. This BOOK II. Chap. 10. prince himself we are told, “when he had completed his conquests, released all the rebellious princes he had made captive; and each returning to his own country laden with presents, reflected upon this generous deed, and longed to see him again.”1 The laws frequently afford evidence to the same purpose. The penalty, so frequently imposed, of banishment from one kingdom to another, proves the vicinity of different kingdoms.2 The following is another instance in point: “If a lender of money says to a person, A debt due to me is outstanding in your hands, and that person denies the debt, if at that time the bond is not in the lender’s hands, but should be in some other kingdom, then, until he brings the bond from such other kingdom, the suit shall not be determined.”3 In the code of Menu is a series of rules for behaviourBOOK II. Chap. 10. to neighbouring princes; sufficiently proving, that Hindustan was in that state of subdivison which rendered these rules pertinent and useful.1 These articles, to which there is nothing whatsoever opposed, but the absurd fables of the Brahmens, constitute a degree of evidence to which we may with sufficient confidence attach our belief.2
BOOK II. Chap. 10.We have already seen, in reviewing the Hindu form of government, that despotism, in one of its simplest and least artificial shapes, was established in Hindustan, and confirmed by laws of Divine authority. We have seen likewise, that by the division of the people into castes, and the prejudices which the detestable views of the Brahmens raised to separate them, a degrading and pernicious system of subordination was established among the Hindus, and that the vices of such a system were there carried to a more destructive height than among any other people.1 And we have seen that by a system of priestcraft, built upon the most enormous and tormenting superstition that ever harassed and degraded any portion of mankind, their minds were enchained moreBOOK II. Chap. 10. intolerably than their bodies; in short that, despotism and priestcraft taken together, the Hindus, in mind and body, were the most enslaved portion of the human race. Sir William Jones, in his preface to the translation of the Institutes of Menu, says, that this code exhibits “a system of despotism and priestcraft, both indeed limited by law, but artfully conspiring to give mutual support, though with mutual checks.” The despotism and priestcraft of the system were, it seems, too glaring to be mistaken or denied; but, in order to palliate the deformity, Sir William is betrayed into nonsense. A despotism, he says, limited by law; as if a despotism limited by law were not a contradiction in terms; what is limited by law, so far as so limited, being not a despotism. A priestcraft, he also says, limited by law: A law of which the priests themselves were the sole makers, and the sole interpreters! A despotism, and a priestcraft, he says, with mutual checks. Yes, truly; it was the interest of the priestcraft to check the despotism, in all encroachments on the priestcraft; and it was the interest of the despotism to check the priestcraft, in all encroachments on the despotism: But who checked the despotism and the priestcraft in oppressing the people? Alas! no one. It was the interest of the despotism and the priestcraft to join together in upholding their common tyranny over the people; and it must be allowed that so commanding a motive had all the influence upon their conduct which it might be expected to have. Apply this remark of the splendid orientalist to the Turks: There is a despotism and a priestcraft, limited, (if we may so abuse the term,) and still more strictly limited, by law; for the Moslem laws are more precise and accurate than those of the Hindus: There, too, the BOOK II. Chap. 10. despotism and priestcraft check one another: But has all this prevented the Turkish despotism and priestcraft from being the scourge of human nature; the source of barbarity and desolation?
That the Hindu despotism was not practically mild, we have a number of satisfactory proofs. We have seen the cruelty and ferocity of the penal laws; itself a circumstance of the highest importance. “A thunderbolt,” says the author of the Hetopadesa, “and the power of kings are both dreadful! But the former expendeth its fury at once, whilst the latter is constantly falling upon our heads.”1 Some of the observations are so comprehensive, and pointed, as to afford the strongest evidence. “In this world,” says the same celebrated book, “which is subject to the power of one above, a man of good principles is hard to be found, in a country, for the most part, governed by the use of the rod.”2 “Princes in general, alas! turn away their faces from a man endowed with good qualities.”3 “The conduct of princes, like a fine harlot, is of many colours: True and false, harsh and gentle; cruel and merciful; niggardly and generous; extravagant of expense, and solicitous of the influx of abundant wealth and treasure.”4 “An elephant killeth even by touching, a servant even by smelling, a king even by ruling.”5 All the general maxims of the Hindus import theBOOK II. Chap. 10.extreme degradation of the great body of the people. “The assistance, O king, which is rendered to those of low degree, is like endeavouring to please bears. A low person should never be placed in the station of the great. One of low degree having obtained a worthy station seeketh to destroy his master.”1 “The Hindus,” says Dr. Buchanan, “in their state of independence, exacted deference from those under them with a cruelty and arrogance rarely practised but among themselves. A Nair was expected instantly to cut down a Tiar or Mucua, who presumed to defile him by touching his person; and a similar fate awaited a slave, who did not turn out of the road as a Nair passed.”2 In Sacontala, Dushmantu is represented as a king who possessed every virtue, and made happiness flourish as in the golden age. Yet we have a specimen of the justice and legality which prevailed during this happy reign, in the passage relating to the innocent fisherman. He was found, by certain of the king’s officers, offering to sale a ring with the king’s name upon it. They instantly seize him, and drag him away to justice: all the while beating and bruising him; and loading him with opprobrious epithets. The victim of this brutal treatment offers only the most humble entreaties, making statement of the facts, and protestation of his innocence. Upon the sight of the ring, the king acknowledges that he is innocent; and orders him a sum of money, equal in value to the ring. Of this reward he is obliged to resign a half to the very men BOOK II. Chap. 10.who had abused him, “to escape,” it is said, “the effects of their displeasure.”1
The laws for guarding the authority of the magistrate exhibit a character of extreme severity, and indicate an habitual state of the most rigid domination. “If a man speaks reproachfully of any upright magistrate, the magistrate shall cut out his tongue, or, having confiscated all his effects, shall banish him the kingdom.”2 By this law even the privilege of complaint was taken from the wretched Hindu. The victim of oppression was bound, under ferocious penalties, to suffer in silence.
The following is a law by which every act of despotism is legalized. “If a magistrate, for his own good, hath passed any resolutions, whoever refuses to submit to such resolutions, the magistrate shall cut out that person’s tongue.”3 If every resolution which the magistrate chooses to pass for his own good, is by the very circumstance of his passing it, obligatory under violent penalties, the state of the government is not doubtful.
“If a man makes complaint before the magistrate against the magistrate’s counsellor, without any real fault in him, or performs any business or service for the magistrate’s accuser, the magistrate shall put him to death.”4 Under the operation of this law, the magistrate had little to fear from accusation. There could be no remedy for any grievance; because the existence of any grievance could hardly ever be told. If the magistrate was willing to hear of his own misconduct, or that of his servants, in that case heBOOK II. Chap. 10.might hear of it; where he was unwilling, in that case it was death.1
Though all peaceable applications for the redress of grievances were thus precluded, any violence offered to the person of the magistrate, was punished in a manner which none but the most savage people ever endured. “If a magistrate has committed a crime, and any person, upon discovery of that crime, should beat and ill-use the magistrate, in that case, whatever be the crime of murdering one hundred Brahmins, such crime shall be accounted to that person: and the magistrate shall thrust an iron spit through him, and roast him at the fire.”2
The notices afforded us of particular sovereigns are exceedingly few. But, such as they are, most of them declare the misgovernment and cruelty of the individuals to whom they relate. “According to Plutarch, in his life of Alexander, Chandra-Gupta (I use the words of Mr. Wilford) had been in that prince’s camp, and had been heard to say afterwards, that Alexander would have found no difficulty in the conquest of Prachi, or the country of the Prasians, had he attempted it, as the King was despised and hated too, on account of his cruelty.”3
BOOK II. Chap. 10.As the Hindu manners and character are invariable, according to their admirers; these admirers cannot consistently reject their present, as proof of their ancient, behaviour; and all men will allow that it affords strong ground of inference. “It is a remark,” says one of the best informed observers of Hindustan, “warranted by constant experience, that wherever the government is administered by Gentoos, the people are subject to more and severer oppressions than when ruled by the Moors. I have imputed this to intelligent Gentoos, who have confessed the justice of the accusation, and have not scrupled to give their opinions concerning it.” The opinions of these Gentoos are as favourable to themselves as, suiting the occasion, they could possibly make them. “A Gentoo,” say they, “is not only born with a spirit of more subtile invention, but by his temperance and education becomes more capable of attention to affairs, than a Moor; who no sooner obtains power than he is lost in voluptuousness; he becomes vain and lordly, and cannot dispense with satiating the impulses of his sensual appetites; whereas a Gentoo Prince retains in his Durbar the same spirit which would actuate him if keeping a shop.” Mr. Orme adds, “Avarice is his predominant passion; and all the wiles, address, cunning, and perseverance, of which he is so exquisite a master, are exerted to the utmost in fulfilling the dictates of this vice; and his religion, instead of inspiring, frees him from the remorse of his crimes; for whilst he is harassing and plundering the people by the most cruel oppressions, he is making peace with the gods by denyingBOOK II. Chap. 10. nothing to their priests.” Mr. Orme exhibits an impressive example. “The present King of Travancore (an Hindu prince whose dominions had never been subject to a foreign government) has conquered or carried war into all the countries which lay round his dominions, and lives in the continual exercise of his arms. To atone for the blood which he has spilt, the Brachmans persuaded him that it was necessary he should be born anew: this ceremony consisted in putting the prince into the body of a golden cow of immense value, where, after he had laid the time prescribed, he came out regenerated and freed from all the crimes of his former life. The cow was afterwards cut up and divided amongst the Seers who had invented this extraordinary method for the remission of his sins.”1 No testimony can be stronger BOOK II. Chap. 10. to the natural tendency of the Hindu religion, and to the effects which their institutions are calculated to produce.1
Among other expedients for saving the favouriteBOOK II. Chap. 10. system, it has been maintained that the petty states and princes in Hindustan were but subordinate parts of one great monarchy, whose sceptre they acknowledged, and mandates they obeyed. There is no definable limit to gratuitous suppositions. If we are to be satisfied with opinions not only void of proof, but opposed by every thing of the nature of proof, attainable upon the subject, we may conjure up one opinion after another; and nothing, except physical impossibility or a defect of ingenuity, can set bounds to our affirmations. In the loose mode of thinking, or rather of talking without thinking, which has prevailed concerning Indian affairs, the existence of BOOK II. Chap. 10. feudal institutions in modern Europe has constituted a sufficient basis for the belief of feudal institutions in India; though it would have been just as rational to conclude that, because the Saxon language forms the basis of most of the languages of Europe, therefore the Saxon language forms the basis of the language in India.
There are two modes in which the subordination of a number of petty princes to a great one may take place. The inferior states may exist merely as conquered, enslaved countries, paying tribute to a foreign government, obeying its mandates, and crouching under its lash. A second mode would be, where the inferior states were connected together by confederacy, and acknowledged a common head for the sake of unity, but possessed the right of deliberating in common upon common concerns. It may with confidence be pronounced, that in neither mode is the supposed effect compatible with the state of civilization in Hindustan.
To retain any considerable number of countries in subjection, preserving their own government, and their own sovereigns, would be really arduous, even where the science of government were the best understood. To suppose it possible in a country where the science of government is in the state indicated by the laws and institutions of the Hindus, would be in the highest degree extravagant. Even the Romans themselves, with all the skill which they possessed, retained their provinces in subjection, only by sending thither their own governors and their own armies, and superseding entirely the ancient authorities of the country. The moderation of conquering, without seizing, is a phenomenon so rarely exemplified in the most civilized times, that to suppose it universal in India, is to make a supposition in contradiction to the known laws of human affairs, and even to particularBOOK II. Chap. 10.experience. Wherever an Indian sovereign is able to take possession, he hastens to take it. Wherever he can make a plundering incursion, though unable to retain, he ravages and destroys. Now it sometimes happens, that a neighbouring prince, too weak to prevent or chastise these injuries, endeavours to purchase exemption from them by a composition. This, in the language of the Mahrattas, who, in modern times, have been almost the only people in India in a situation to exact it, is called Chout, of which the standard is a fourth part of the revenues of the district liable to be over-run. It has in several instances, and these abundantly recent ones, been payed, for certain districts, by the British government itself, without the most distant idea of any lordship paramount in the Mahrattas. It is abundantly evident that this species of subordination, if subordination it can be called, never could have extended far; never could reach beyond the countries immediately contiguous to that from which the chance of mischief arose.
A confederation of princes, similar to that which was exemplified in Germany, and which no combination of circumstances has elsewhere produced, is a supposition, still more opposed to experience. Of all the results of civilization, that of forming a combination of different states, and directing their powers to one common object, seems to be one of the least consistent with the mental habits and attainments of the Hindus.1 It is the want of this power of combination BOOK II. Chap. 10. which has rendered India so easy a conquest to all invaders; and enables us to retain, so easily, that dominion over it which we have acquired. Where is there any vestige in India of that deliberative assembly of princes, which in Germany was known by the name of the Diet? Where is there any memorial of that curious constitution by which the union of the German princes was preserved; or of those elections by which they chose among themselves him who should be at their head? That nominal homage, which the Mahratta chiefs paid to the throne of Sevagee, was a temporary circumstance, entirely of a different nature. These chiefs were not subordinate princes, but revolted subjects, in a dismembered empire. There was among them no confederacy. When at war with Scindia, the British were at peace with the Peshwa and Holkar; when they were at war with Holkar, they were at peace with the rest. They acknowledged a subordination to the primary seat of government, only because their subjects had been accustomed to look to it; and because they were not yet secure of their obedience.1
They, who affirm the high state of civilization among the Hindus previous to their subjugation to foreigners, proceed so directly in opposition to evidence,BOOK II. Chap. 10. that wherever the Hindus have been always exempt from the dominion of foreigners, there they are uniformly found in a state of civilization inferior to those who have long been the subjects of a Mahomedan throne.1
It is in no quarter pretended, that the Hindu superstition was ever less gross than it now appears. It is remarkable, that in any quarter it should not be recollected, that superstition necessarily gives way, as civilization advances. Powerful, at an early age, among the Greeks and Romans, it finally ceased to have almost any influence;2 and Goguet had long ago declared, with philosophical truth, that “we wanted no evidence to prove the ignorance and rudeness of the Greeks in the heroic times; their credulity and their respect for oracles are proofs, more than sufficient. This species of superstition has no force or dominion, but in proportion to the gross ignorance BOOK II. Chap. 10. of the people: witness the savages, who do not undertake any thing till they have previously consulted their divines and their oracles.”1
So many regulations are found in the Hindu codes of law respecting seasons of calamity; seasons when it is supposed that a great portion of the people are without the means of subsistence, that those dreadful visitations must be very frequent. From which soever of these two great causes, famine, or the ravages of war, the frequency of those calamities arose, it equally bars the supposition of good government and high civilization.2
If we apply the reflection, which has been much admired, that if a man were to travel over the whole world, he might take the state of the roads, that is, the means of internal communication in general, as a measure of the civilization; a very low estimate will be formed of the progress of the Hindus. “In India,” says Rennel, “the roads are little better than paths, and the rivers without bridges.”3 “In Malabar,” says Dr. Buchanan, speaking of the wretched state of the roads, “even cattle are little used for the transportation of goods, which are generally carried by porters.”4 The Emperor, Shah Jehan, constructed certain roads in Bengal, which were celebrated as prodigies; but the remains of them, Dr. Tennant remarks, sufficiently manifest that they can neverBOOK II. Chap. 10. have been good, and the admiration they excited proves nothing except the wretched condition of every thing, under the name of road, which had been known in India before.1 Another fact, of much importance, is, that a Mahomedan sovereign was the first who established Choultries; that is, Caravanseras, or houses of reception for travellers upon the road, of which, till that period, they had no experience. “This fact,” says Mr. Forster, “also recorded in Dow’s history, is well known amongst the natives.”2
Among the pretensions received without examination, that of enormous riches found in India by the first Mahomedan conquerors, requires particular attention. If those accounts had not far exceeded all reasonable bounds, it would have been a matter of difficulty, to prove the falsehood of them, except to those who were capable of estimating one circumstance, in any state of society, by its analogy with the rest. As the amount, however, stated by those authors, whose testimony has been adopted; by Ferishta, for example, followed by Dow; far exceeds the bounds not of probability only, but of credibility; and affords decisive evidence of that Eastern exaggeration which in matters of history disdains to be guided by fact, the question is left free of any considerable difficulty.3 These accounts refute themselves. We have, therefore, no testimony on the subject; for all that is presented to us in the shape of testimony betrays itself to be merely fiction. We are left to our knowledge of circumstances, and to the inferences which they support. Now if the preceding induction, embracing the circumstances of Hindu society, is to be BOOK II. Chap. 10. relied on, it will not be disputed, that a state of poverty and wretchedness, as far as the great body of the people are concerned, must have prevailed in India, not more in the times in which it has been witnessed by Europeans, than the times which preceded. A gilded throne, or the display of gold, silver, and precious stones, about the seat of a court, does not invalidate this inference. Only there where gold and silver are scarce, can the profuse display of them about the monarch’s person either gratify the monarch’s vanity, or dazzle by its rarity the eyes of the multitude. Perhaps there are few indications more decisive of a poor country, and a barbarous age, than the violent desire of exhibiting the precious metals and precious stones, as the characteristic marks and decorations of the chief magistrate.1
The science of political economy places this conclusion on the ground of demonstration. For the people to have been rich in gold and silver, these commodities must have circulated among them in the shape of money. But of gold and silver in the shape of money, no nation has more, than what is in proportion to its exchangeable commodities. Now that ever the people of Hindustan were profusely supplied with commodities, every thing in their manners, habits, government, and history, concur to disprove. There is, besides, a well-established fact, which ascertains the impossibility of their having abounded in gold and silver. Their commodities were not exchanged by the medium of the precious metals. The traffic of India, as in the rudest parts of the earth, was chiefly a traffic of barter; and its taxes, as already seen, were paid in kind. It was not till the time of Akber that gold or silver was coined for circulation,BOOK II. Chap. 10. in the greatest part of India; antecedently to that period small pieces of copper were the only coin.1 Up to the present hour, when the real signs of riches and civilization are but just beginning to be understood, nothing has been more common with rash and superficial travellers, than to set down lofty accounts of the riches of almost every new country to which they repaired.2
BOOK II. Chap. 10.As rude nations, still more than civilized, are incessantly harassed by the dangers, or following the gains of war; one of the first applications of knowledge is, to improve the military art. The Hindus have, at no period, been so far advanced in knowledge, as even to be aware of the advantage of discipline, of those regular and simultaneous movements, upon which, in skilled warfare, almost every thing depends. “In the Hindu armies,” says Francklin, “no idea of discipline ever existed.”1 “The rudeness of the military art in Indostan,” says Mr. Orme, “can scarce be imagined but by those who have seen it. The infantry consists of a multitude of people assembled together without regard to rank and file.”2
Even medicine and surgery, to the cultivation ofBOOK II. Chap. 10. which so obvious and powerful an interest invites, had scarcely, beyond the degree of the most uncultivated tribes, attracted the rude understanding of the Hindus. Though the leisure of the Brahmens has multiplied books, on astrology, on the exploits of the gods, and other worthless subjects, to such a multitude, “that human life,” says Sir W. Jones, “would not be sufficient to make oneself acquainted with any considerable part of Hindu literature,”1 he yet confesses, there is “no evidence that in any language of Asia, there exists one original treatise on medicine, considered as a science.”2 Surgery, says an author, who believes in the high civilization of the Hindus, is unknown among that people. In the case of gunshot, or sabre wounds, all they did was to wash the wound, and tie it up with fresh leaves; the patient, during the period of convalescence, eating nothing but the water gruel of rice.3
BOOK II. Chap. 10.In comparing them with other people, it cannot, in a single word, be declared, with which of the nations, more familiar to Europeans, the Hindus, in point of civilization, may be regarded as on a level; because, in comparison with those whom they most nearly approach, while inferior to them in some, they are superior, in other respects. Should we say that the civilization of the people of Hindustan, and that of the people of Europe, during the feudal ages, are not far from equal, we shall find upon a close inspection, that the Europeans were superior, in the first place, notwithstanding the vices of the papacy, in religion; and, notwithstanding the defects of the schoolmen, in philosophy. They were greatly superior, notwithstanding the defects of the feudal system, in the institutions of government and in laws. Even their poetry, if the observance of nature, if the power of moving the affections, or indeed ingenuity of invention, be regarded as the marks of excellence, is beyond all comparison preferable to the poetry of the Hindus. That, in war, the Hindus have always been greatly inferior to the warlike nations of Europe, during theBOOK II. Chap. 10.middle ages, it seems hardly necessary to assert.1 In some of the more delicate manufactures, however, particularly in spinning, weaving, and dyeing, the Hindus, as they rival all nations, so they no doubt surpass all that was attained by the rude Europeans. In the fabrication, too, of trinkets; in the art of polishing and setting the precious stones; it is possible, and even probable, that our impatient and rough ancestors did not attain the same nicety which is displayed by the patient Hindus. In the arts of painting and sculpture, we have no reason to think that the Europeans were excelled by the Hindus. In architecture, the people who raised the imposing structures which yet excite veneration in many of the ancient cathedrals, were not left behind by the builders of the Indian pagodas.2 The agriculture of the BOOK II. Chap. 10.Europeans, imperfect as it was, surpassed exceedingly that of the Hindus; for with the climate and soil of most of the countries of Europe, agriculture, so imperfect as that of India, could not have maintained the population. In point of manners and character, the manliness and courage of our ancestors, compared with the slavish and dastardly spirit of the Hindus, place them in an elevated rank. But they were inferior to that effeminate people in gentleness, and the winning arts of address. Our ancestors, however, though rough, were sincere; but, under the glosing exterior of the Hindu, lies a general disposition to deceit and perfidy. In fine, it cannot be doubted that, upon the whole, the gothic nations, as soon as they became a settled people, exhibit the marks of a superior character and civilization to those of the Hindus.1
No one can take an accurate survey of the differentBOOK II. Chap. 10.nations of Asia, and of their different ages, without remarking the near approaches they make to the same stage of civilization. This gives a peculiar interest and importance to the inquiry respecting the Hindus. There can be no doubt that they are in a state of civilization very nearly the same with that of the Chinese, the Persians, and the Arabians; who, together, compose the great branches of the Asiatic population; and of which the subordinate nations, the Japanese, Cochin-chinese, Siamese, Burmans, and even Malays and Tibetians, are a number of corresponding and resembling offsets.
With regard to former ages, it is true, that the religion, and several circumstances in the outward forms of society, have been altered in Persia, since the days of Darius; but the arts, the sciences, the literature, the manners, the government, concur to prove, in a remarkable manner, the near approach of the two periods to the same points of civilization. The ancient Persians, too, there is reason to believe, were placed in BOOK II. Chap. 10.nearly the same state of society with the people whom they succeeded; the Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Babylonians. In contemplating, therefore, the state of Hindustan, curiosity is very extensively gratified. As the manners, institutions, and attainments of the Hindus, have been stationary for many ages; in beholding the Hindus of the present day, we are beholding the Hindus of many ages past; and are carried back, as it were, into the deepest recesses of antiquity. Of some of the oldest nations, about which our curiosity is the most alive, and information the most defective, we acquire a practical, and what may be almost denominated a personal knowledge, by our acquaintance with a living people, who have continued on the same soil from the very times of those ancient nations, partake largely of the same manners, and are placed at nearly the same stage in the progress of society. By conversing with the Hindus of the present day, we, in some measure, converse with the Chaldeans and Babylonians of the time of Cyrus; with the Persians and Egyptians of the time of Alexander.
A judicious observer of Asiatic manners declares that “The leading customs of the various nations of Asia are similar, or but weakly diversified. When they sit, the legs are crossed or bent under them; they perform topical ablutions before and after meals, at which no knife or spoon is used, unless the diet be wholly liquid; they invariably adopt the like modes of performing natural evacuations.”1
The account which Gibbon presents us, from Herodian, and Ammianus Marcellinus, of the art of war among the Persians, in the time of the Roman emperors, is an exact description of the art, as practised by the Persians and Hindus, and by most of the other nations of Asia, at the present day. “The science of war, that constituted the more rational force of GreeceBOOK II. Chap. 10. and Rome, as it now does of Europe, never made any considerable progress in the East. Those disciplined evolutions which harmonize and animate a confused multitude, were unknown to the Persians. They were equally unskilled in the arts of constructing, besieging, or defending regular fortifications. They trusted more to their numbers than to their courage; more to their courage than to their discipline. The infantry was a half-armed, spiritless crowd of peasants, levied in haste by the allurements of plunder, and as easily dispersed by a victory as by a defeat. The monarch and his nobles, transported into the camp the pride and luxury of the seraglio. Their military operations were impeded by a useless train of women, eunuchs, horses and camels; and in the midst of a successful campaign, the Persian host was often separated or destroyed by an unexpected famine.”1
In the system of Zoroaster, and in that of the Brahmens, we find the same lofty expressions concerning the invisible powers of nature; the same absurdity in the notions respecting the creation; the same infinite and absurd ritual; the same justness in many ideas respecting the common affairs of life and morality; the same gross misunderstanding in others; but a striking resemblance between the two systems, both in their absurdities and perfections. The same turn of imagination seems to have belonged to the authors of both; and the same aspect of nature to have continually presented itself; the deformities however of the Hindu system being always the greatest.
The Persians, in the time of Cambyses, had judges, select sages, who were appointed for life; and whose BOOK II. Chap. 10. business it was, according to pre-established laws, to terminate all disputes, and punish crimes. This, like similar circumstances, in the state of the Hindus, presents part of the forms of a legal government. These judges, however, when consulted by the king if he might perform an act, on which for fear of popular odium he hesitated to venture, gave a solemn opinion, that for the king of the Persians it was law, to do whatsoever he pleased.1 “This constitutional maxim,” says Gibbon archly, “was not neglected as an useless and barren theory.”2
“Like Brimha, the Fo of the Chinese has various times become incarnate among men and beasts. Hence he is represented in his temples as riding upon dragons, rhinoceroses, elephants, mules and asses; dogs, rats, cats, crocodiles, and other amiable creatures, whose figures he fancied and assumed. There are in some of these pagodas, a thousand of these monstrous statues, all most horribly ugly, and ill represented, and unlike any thing in heaven or earth, or the waters under the earth.”3
Under the reign of credulity, it is instructive toBOOK II. Chap. 10. mark the inconsiderateness of a reflecting writer. After many praises of the Chinese husbandry, such as those which we have often heard of the agriculture of the Hindus, Lord Macartney adds, “The plough is the simplest in the world, has but one handle, is drawn by a single buffalo, and managed by a single person without any assistance.”1 And Mr. Barrow says, “Two thirds of the small quantity of land under tillage is cultivated with the spade or the hoe, without the aid of draught cattle.”2
Even of the principal route from Pekin to Canton, Lord Macartney remarks; “For horse and foot the road is excellent, but admits of no wheel carriages.”3 Mr. Barrow more explicitly declares, that except near the capital, and in some few places where the junction of the grand canal with navigable rivers is interrupted by mountainous ground, there is scarcely a road in the whole country that can be ranked beyond a foot path.4 Even the grand canal itself was opened by the Tartar conqueror Gingis Khan, in the thirteenth century: and that solely with a view to convey the taxes, paid in kind, from the southern part of the empire to the capital, a great part of them having been always lost by the unskilfulness of Chinese navigation, when conveyed by sea.”5
Like the Hindus, before the improvements introduced among them by the Moguls, the Chinese have no coin, above a small one of copper; and the taxes of that immense empire are paid in kind.6
Lord Macartney remarks, that the Chinese have no natural philosophy; no medical or chirurgical skill; that a fractured leg is usually attended by death.1
In the sciences and arts of the Hindus and Chinese there is manifested a near approximation to the same point of advancement. In respect to government and laws, the Chinese have to a considerable degree the advantage. As they are a busy people, however; and have no idle class, whose influence depends upon the wonder they can excite by pretended learning, they have multiplied, far less than the Hindus, those false refinements, which a barbarous mind mistakes for science.2 Both have made greater progress in the refinement of the useful arts, than in the advancement of science. But in these too the Chinese appear to have the superiority; for though it may be doubted whether the Chinese manufacture of silk rivals in delicacy the cotton manufacture of the Hindus, the latter people have nothing to set in competition with the porcelain of the Chinese; and in the common works in wood and iron, the Chinese are conspicuously preferable. In the contrivance and use of machinery both are equally simple and rude.3
In the state of the fine arts, there is a striking resemblance between the two nations. “The architectureBOOK II. Chap. 10. of the Chinese,” says Mr. Barrow, “is void of taste, grandeur, beauty, solidity, or convenience; their houses are merely tents, and there is nothing magnificent in the palace of the emperor.”1 Both nations were good at imitation.2 Both were extremely defective in invention. In painting and sculpture they were ignorant of perspective, of attitude, and proportion.
Even in manners, and in the leading parts of the moral character, the lines of resemblance are strong. Both nations are to nearly an equal degree tainted with the vices of insincerity; dissembling, treacherous, mendacious, to an excess which surpasses even the usual measure of uncultivated society. Both are disposed to excessive exaggeration with regard to every thing relating to themselves. Both are cowardly and unfeeling. Both are in the highest degree conceited of themselves, and full of affected contempt for others. Both are, in the physical sense, disgustingly unclean in their persons and houses.99
BOOK II. Chap. 10.With respect to the inhabitants of another quarter of Asia, Turner, in his account of the embassy to Tibet, informs us, that the deportment of the Rajah of Bootan was exceedingly urbane, and his sentiments breathed that sort of humanity which seems to flow from the belief of the metempsychosis. “My food, said he, consists of the simplest articles; grain, roots of the earth, and fruits. I never eat of any thing which has had breath, for so I should be the indirect cause of putting an end to the existence of animal life, which by our religion is strictly forbidden.”1
Though frequent ablutions are performed for religious purposes, the same author informs us that the people in their persons are extremely unclean.2
“Bootan presents to the view nothing but the most mishapen irregularities; mountains covered with eternal verdure, and rich with abundant forests of large and lofty trees. Almost every favourable aspect of them, coated with the smallest quantity of soil, is cleared and adapted to cultivation, by being shelved into horizontal beds; not a slope or narrow slip of land between the ridges lies unimproved. There isBOOK II. Chap. 10.scarcely a mountain whose base is not washed by some rapid torrent, and many of the loftiest bear populous villages, amidst orchards and other plantations on their summits and on their sides. It combines in its extent the most extravagant tracts of rude nature and laborious art.”1
Yet they have no discipline in their armies. In their mode of warfare, stratagem is more practised than open assault.2
The appearance of the capital Teshoo Loomboo was in a high degree magnificent, and together with the palace afforded proofs of a progress in the arts which vied with that of Hindustan and China.3
The inhabitants of the great Peninsula, to the eastward of the Ganges, discover, as far as known, the uniform marks of a similar state of society and manners. The Cochin-Chinese, for example, who are merely a separate community of the Chinese race, appear by no means in civilization behind the Chinese and Hindus. A traveller from whom we have obtained a sensible though short account of some of the more striking phenomena of the country, both physical and moral, informs us, that it is “one of the most fruitful in the world. In many parts,” he says, “the land produces three crops of grain in the year. All the fruits of India are found here in the greatest perfection, with many of those of China. No country in the East produces richer or a greater variety of articles proper for carrying on an advantageous commerce, cinnamon, pepper, cardemoms, BOOK II. Chap. 10.silk, cotton, sugar, Agula wood, Japan wood, ivory, &c.”1
The following paragraph describes an important article of accommodation, to which no parallel can be found in all China and Hindustan. “In this valley we passed through three or four pretty villages pleasantly situated, in which, as well as on other parts of the road, were public houses, where tea, fruits, and other refreshments are sold to travellers. At noon we alighted at one of them, and partook of a dinner, which consisted of fowls cut into small pieces, dressed up with a little greens and salt, some fish, &c.”2
The appearance of the king’s court was not only splendid but decorous; and even the little of the country which the travellers saw discovered to them large cities, with streets, laid out on a regular plan, paved with flat stones, and having well-built brickBOOK II. Chap. 10.houses on each side.1
The people on the western side of that peninsula, whether known by the name of Birmans, Peguans, Assamese, or Siamese, partake strongly of the Hindu character, and exhibit only a variation of the religion, laws, institutions, and manners which prevail on the other side of the Ganges. The great difference consists in their having adopted the heresy, or retained the primitive faith of Buddha; and rejected the distinction of castes. But nothing appears among them which would lead to an inference of any inferiority in their progress towards the attainments of civilized life.
The Birmans, we are told by Symes, call their code generally Derma Sath or Sastra; it is one among the many commentaries on Menu. “The Birman system of jurisprudence,” he adds, “is replete with sound morality, and in my opinion is distinguished above every other Hindoo commentary for perspicuity and good sense. It provides specifically for almost every species of crime that can be committed, and adds a copious chapter of precedents and decisions to guide the inexperienced in cases where there is doubt BOOK II. Chap. 10.and difficulty. Trial by ordeal and imprecation are the only absurd passages in the book.”1
“There is no country of the East,” says the same author, “in which the royal establishment is arranged with more minute attention than in the Birman court; it is splendid without being wasteful, and numerous without confusion.”2
Their literature appears to be as extensive and curious, as that of the Hindus. They have numerous, and copious libraries; the books, says Colonel Symes, are “upon divers subjects; more on divinity than on any other; but history, music, medicine, painting and romance, had their separate treatises.”3
Of the kingdom of Assam we possess not many accounts; but what we have yield evidence to the same effect. In the Alemgeernameh of Mohammed Cazim, is a description of Assam, which has been translated by Henry Vansittart, Esqr. and presented to us in several publications. We are there told that the country, at least in many places, is “well inhabited, and in an excellent state of tillage; that it presents, on everyside, charming prospects of ploughed fields, harvests, gardens, and groves.”4
“As the country is overflowed in the rainy season, a high and broad causeway has been raised, for the convenience of travellers from Salagereh to Ghergong, which is the only uncultivated ground to be seen:BOOK II. Chap. 10.each side of this road is planted with shady bamboos, the tops of which meet and are entwined.”112 And this is more than seems to have been attained in Hindustan, before the improvements introduced by the Mohammedan conquerors.
“The silks are excellent, and resemble those of China. They are successful in embroidering with flowers, and in weaving velvet, and tautband, which is a species of silk of which they make tents and kenauts.”2
The bigotted and intolerant Mussulman, however, who finds no excellence where he finds not his faith; discovers no qualities but evil in the minds of the Assamese. “They do not adopt,” he says, “any mode of worship practised either by heathens or Mahomedans; nor do they concur in any of the known sects, which prevail amongst mankind. They are a base and unprincipled nation, and have no fixed religion; they follow no rule but that of their own inclinations, and make the approbation of their own vicious minds the test of the propriety of their actions.”3 Such are the distorted views presented to an ignorant mind, through the medium of a dark and malignant religion, respecting a people cultivating the ground to great perfection, and forming a dense population. Among other particulars of the vileness which he beheld in them, is the following: “The base inhabitants, from a congenial impulse, are fond of seeing and keeping asses, and buy and sell them at a high price.”4 Yet he speaks in lofty terms of the royal magnificence of the court. “The Rajahs of this country have always raised the crest of pride and vain BOOK II. Chap. 10.glory, and displayed an ostentatious appearance of grandeur, and a numerous train of attendants and servants.” And he expresses himself with mingled horror and admiration of the prowess and superiority of the Assamese in war. “They have not bowed the head of submission and obedience, nor have they paid tribute or submission to the most powerful monarch; but they have curbed the ambition, and checked the conquests, of the most victorious princes of Hindustan.” Several armies from Bengal, which had been sent to conquer them, having been cut off, of some of which scarce even tidings had ever been received, “the natives of Hindustan consider them wizards and magicians, and pronounce the name of that country in all their incantations and countercharms: they say, that every person who sets his foot there is under the influence of witchcraft, and cannot find the road to return.”1
The admiration which the Greeks, no very accurate observers of foreign manners, expressed of the Egyptians, and which other nations have so implicitly borrowed at their hands, not a little resembles the admiration among Europeans which has so long prevailed with regard to the Hindus. The penetrating force of modern intelligence has pierced the cloud: and while it has displayed to us the state of Egyptian civilization in its true colours, exhibits a people who, standing on a level with so many celebrated nations of antiquity, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Arabians, correspond, in all the distinctive marks of a particular state of society, with the people of Hindustan. The evidence has been weighed by a cool and dispassionate judge, in the following manner: “I see nothing,” says the President Goguet, “in the EgyptiansBOOK II. Chap. 10.that can serve to distinguish them in a manner very advantageous; I even think myself authorized to refuse them the greatest part of the eulogies that have been always so liberally bestowed upon them. The Egyptians did invent some arts and some sciences, but they never had the ingenuity to bring any of their discoveries to perfection. I have exposed their want of taste, and I venture to say, of talent, in architecture, in sculpture, and in painting. Their manner of practising physic was absurd and ridiculous. The knowlege they had of geometry and astronomy was but very imperfect. Their discoveries are far enough from entering into any comparison with those which the Greeks made afterwards in those two sciences. In fine, the Egyptians have had neither genius, ardour, nor talent, for commerce, or for the marine and military art.
“As to civil laws, and political constitutions, the Egyptians had indeed some very good ones; but otherwise there reigned in their government a multitude of abuses and essential defects, authorized by the laws and by their fundamental principles of government.
As to the manners and customs of this people, we have seen to what a height indecency and debauchery were carried in their religious feasts and public ceremonies. The public cult which a nation fixes to honour the Deity, bears the stamp of that nation’s character. Neither was the morality of the Egyptians extremely pure; we may even affirm, that it offended against the first rules of rectitude and probity. We see that the Egyptians bore the highest blame of covetousness, of ill faith, of cunning, and of roguery.
It appears to me to result from all these facts BOOK II. Chap. 10.that the Egyptians were a people industrious enough, but, as to the rest, without taste, without genius, without discernment; a people who had only ideas of grandeur ill understood; and whose progress in all the different parts of human knowledge never rose beyond a flat mediocrity; knavish into the bargain, and crafty, soft, lazy, cowardly, and submissive; and who, having performed some exploits to boast of in distant times, were ever after subjected by whoever would undertake to subdue them; a people again vain and foolish enough to despise other nations without knowing them: Superstitious to excess, singularly addicted to judicial astrology, extravagantly besotted with an absurd and monstrous theology. Does not this representation sufficiently authorize us to say that all that science, that wisdom, and that philosophy, so boasted of in the Egyptian priests, was but imposture and juggling, capable of imposing only on people so little enlightened, or so strongly prejudiced, as were anciently the Greeks in favour of the Egyptians.”1
The sagacity of Adam Smith induced him, at anBOOK II. Chap. 10.early period of his life, to deny the supposed proof of any high attainments among those ancient nations, and to declare, though with hesitancy, his inclination to the opposite opinion.
“It was in Greece, and in the Grecian colonies, that the first philosophers of whose doctrine we have any distinct account, appeared. Law and order seem indeed to have been established in the great monarchies of Asia and Egypt, long before they had any footing in Greece: Yet after all that has been said concerning the learning of the Chaldeans and Egyptians, whether there ever was in those nations any thing which deserved the name of science, or whether that despotism which is more destructive of leisure and security than anarchy itself, and which prevailed over all the East, prevented the growth of philosophy, is a question which, for want of monuments, cannot be determined with any degree of precision.”1 To leave the subject even in this state of doubt was but a compromise with popular opinion, and with his own imperfect views. The circumstances handed down to us, compared with the circumstances of other nations, afforded materials for a very satisfactory determination. BOOK II. Chap. 10.The opinion by which he supports his disbelief of the ancient civilization of Asia is at once philanthrophic and profound; That “despotism is more destructive of leisure and security, and more adverse to the progress of the human mind, than anarchy itself.”
“Any thing proposed to us which causes surprise and admiration, gives such a satisfaction to the mind, that it indulges itself in those agreeable emotions, and will never be persuaded that its pleasure is entirely without foundation.” (Hume, Treatise of Human Nature, i. 53.
To this good effect, if to no other, the embassy of Lord Macartney, and the writings to which it has given occasion, have largely contributed. See Barrow’s two works, Travels in China, and Life of Lord Macartney, and above all, that important document, a volume of the Laws of China, translated by Sir George Staunton. No one has more approximated to a correct judgment of the Chinese, than De Guignes. See Voyage.
Many of the observations of Mr. Barrow upon the panegyrical accounts of the Chinese by the popish missionaries are very applicable to the flattering accounts which travellers have been so found of giving us of the Hindus. “In the same breath that they extol the wonderful strength of filial piety, they speak of the common practices of exposing infants; the strict morality and ceremonious conduct of the people are followed by a list of the most gross debaucheries; the virtues and the philosophy of the learned are explained by their ignorance and their vices: if in one page they speak of the excessive fertility of the country, and the amazing extension of agriculture, in the next thousands are seen perishing with want; and whilst they extol with admiration the progress they have made in the arts and sciences, they plainly inform us that without the aid of foreigners they can neither cast a cannon nor calculate an eclipse.” Barrow’s Travels in China, p. 31.
One of the chief circumstances from which Sir William Jones drew conclusions respecting the high civilization of the Hindus, was the supposition that they never went abroad, a supposition which is now well known to have been erroneous. See Asiat. Res. vi. 531, and i. 271.
The writings of Mr. Miller of Glasgow, of which but a small part was then published, and into which it is probable Sir William had never looked, contained the earliest elucidations of the subject. The suggestions offered in his successive productions, though highly important, were but detached considerations applied to particular facts, and not a comprehensive induction, leading to general conclusions. Unfortunately the subject, great as is its importance, has not been resumed. The writings of Mr. Miller remain almost the only source from which even the slightest information on the subject can be drawn One of the ends which has at least been in view during the scrutiny conducted in these pages, has been to contribute something to the progress of so important an investigation. It is hoped that the materials which are here collected will be regarded as going far to elucidate the state of society in all the leading nations of Asia. Not only the Hindus, the Persians, the Arabians, the Turks, and Chinese of the present day, but the Hindus, Arabians, and Persians of ancient days, the Chaldeans, the Jews, and even the ancient Egyptians, may all be regarded as involved in the inquiry; and to these, with the sole exception of the wandering Tartars and the Hyperborean hordes, may be added the second-rate nations; the inhabitants of the eastern peninsula, and of the plains and mountains of Tibet. It is surprising, upon a close inspection, how extensively all these various nations, notwithstanding the dissimilarity in some of the more obvious appearances, resemble one another, in laws and institutions of government, in modes of thinking, in superstition and prejudices, in arts and literature, even in the external forms of manner and behaviour, and as well in ancient, as in modern times.
Essay on the Poetry of Eastern Nations. Voltaire exclaimed, on reading Rousseau’s panegyrics. “Jamais n’avais-je tant d’envie de marcher à quatre pattes.”
Sir W. Jones, Asiat. Res. ii. 3.
Ibid. p. 9.
Sir W. Jones, Asiat. Res. ii. p. 14.—"On this occasion, as well as on many others, the sober historian is forcibly wakened from a pleasing vision; and is compelled with some reluctance, to confess that the pastoral manners, which have been adorned with the fairest attributes of peace and innocence, are much better adapted to the fierce and cruel habits of a military life.” Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. xxvi. p. 342.
In the same discourse Sir William further remarks; “That we have none of their compositions in prose before the Koran, may be ascribed, perhaps, to the little skill which they seem to have had in writing, to their predilection in favour of poetical measure, and the facility with which verses are committed to memory; but all their stories prove that they were eloquent in a high degree, and possessed wonderful powers of speaking without preparation, in flowing and forcible periods.” (Asiat, Res. ii. p. 14.) “Who,” says Dr. Ferguson, “would from mere conjecture suppose, that the naked savage would be a coxcomb and a gamester; that he would be proud and vain, without the distinctions of title and fortune; and that his principal care would be to adorn his person, and to find an amusement? Even if it could be supposed that he would thus share in our vices, and in the midst of his forest vie with the follies which are practised in the town; yet no one would be so bold as to affirm that he would likewise in any instance excel us in talents and virtue; that he would have a penetration, a force of imagination and elocution, an ardour of mind, an affection and courage, which the arts, the discipline, and the policy of few nations would be able to improve. Yet these particulars are a part in the description which is delivered by those who have had opportunities of seeing mankind in their rudest condition: and beyond the reach of such testimony, we can neither safely take, nor pretend to give information on the subject.” Ferguson’s Essay on the History of Civil Society, part ii. sect. 1.
None of them has confessed the existence of this motive with more frankness than Le Gentil, Voy. ii. 98. “Avant que j’eusse perdu mon clocher de vue, les François etoient mes heros.....Quant à moi, je suis gueri de mes prejugés, et je m’applaudis en secret de m’etre detrompé.—Col. Dow boasts of being actuated by the same sentiments and scruples not to call Goths, or worse than Goths, all those who are not so: “In love with our own times and country,” says he, “we are apt to consider distant ages and nations, as objects unworthy of the page of the historian......Some men of genius have entertained sentiments upon that subject, too narrow and confined for the Goths of a much darker age. Had the translator of the following history thought so meanly of the affairs of the East,” &c. Dow’s Hindostan, Preface.
The account which Robertson gives of the causes which led to exaggerated conceptions in the mind of the Spaniards, respecting the civilization of the Mexicans, applies in almost every particular to those of the English and French respecting the Hindus. “The Spaniards,” says he, “when they first touched on the Mexican coast, were so much struck with the appearance of attainments in policy and in the arts of life, far superior to those of the rude tribes with which they were hitherto acquainted, that they fancied they had at length discovered a civilized people in the New World. This comparison between the people of Mexico and their uncultivated neighbours, they appear to have kept constantly in view, and observing with admiration many things which marked the pre-eminence of the former, they employed, in describing their imperfect policy and infant arts, such terms as are applicable to the institutions of men far beyond them in improvement. Both these circumstances concur in detracting from the credit due to the descriptions of Mexican manners by the early Spanish writer. By drawing a parallel between them and those of people so much less civilized, they raised their own ideas too high. By their mode of describing them, they conveyed ideas to others no less exalted above truth. Later writers have adopted the style of the original historians, and improved upon it.” Hist. of America, iii. 320.
“Le voyageur racontant ses avantures, cherche dans l’admiration de ceux qui l’ecoutent, un dedommagement aux dangers qu’il a courus; il enfle la narration: Le sçavant, qui s’est donné beaucoup de peine pour apprendre des langues etrangeres et lointnines, s’extnsie sur la beauté des ouvrages qu’il est parvenu à entendre.” Anquetil Duperron, Note, No. ii. Supplement aux Recherches, &c. sur l’Inde.
“The administration of justice has been almost universally, by the Mogul conquerors of Indostan, devolved upon the Hindus, the office of Duan being generally conferred upon one of that people.” Orme on the Government and People of Indostan,” p. 443. “Although the Mogul Tartars under Tamerlane and his successors have at last rendered themselves lords of almost the whole of it (India); yet the original inhabitants have lost very little of their original character by the establishment of these strangers amongst them.” Orme, Hist. of Milit. Transact in Indostan, i. 2.
It seems to have been a rash and foolish assimilation of the conquest of Hindustan by the Moguls to the overwhelming of the Roman empire by the northern nations, that alone could have suggested so gratuitous a supposition as that of the degradation of the Hindus from an improved to a barbarous state of society by the calamities of conquest. The two cases are totally dissimilar. By the successive inundations of the barbarians, the ancient inhabitants of the Roman provinces were well nigh swept from the face of the earth. Every where they were stript of the possession of the land, and commonly reduced to the state of bondsmen and slaves. The ancient institutions entirely gave way, and were replaced by a set of institutions altogether new. The language of the conquerors in most places entirely supplanted; in all it so much altered, the language of the people subdued or exterminated, as to impose upon it a different structure. Another circumstance is never to be forgotten. To such a degree of barbarity were the inhabitants of the Roman provinces degraded, by the long continued effects of a detestable government, that the invaders had really not much to accomplish to reduce them to the same level with themselves. This was abundantly seen in the state of the Greeks of the eastern empire; who, upon their very first subjugation to the Turks, exhibited a condition not greatly different from that in which they grovel at the present day. The conquest to which, with greatest propriety, that of the Hindus by one tribe of Tartars might be compared, would be the conquest of the Chinese by a similar tribe of Tartars. There is no reason to think that the one was a conquest of a more destructive nature than the other. If the Moguls did not adopt the religion and institutions of the Hindus, it was because the religion and institutions of the Hindus admitted of no participation, and because the Moguls had already embraced a more enlightened faith. See Francis’s Minute, p. 30: also the treatise of Mr. Grant, on the Character of the Hindus, printed by order of the House of Commons in 1813.
Asiat. Res. i. 258.
Essay on Vicramaditya and Salivahana, by Capt. Wilford, Asiat. Res. ix. 117 to 120.
If we examine the chronological table of the Hindu kings, presented us by Sir William Jones, we shall find Vicramaditya placed at an era posterior to the Mussulman conquests.
Now Seleucus, who was contemporary with Chandragupta (Asiat. Res. iv. xxvi.), began to reign about 300 years before Christ. By this chronology, therefore, Vicramaditya began to reign about 1146 years after Christ.
Essay on Vicramaditya, and Salivahana, by Captain Wilford, Asiat. Res. ix. 132, 133.
Essay on Vicramaditya, and Salivahana, by Capt. Wilford, Asiat, Res. ix. 158, 159.
Ibid. p. 149.
Essay on Vicramaditya, and Salivahana, by Captain Wilford, Asiat. Res. ix. 147, 148, 149.
Ibid. p. 149.
Mr. Wilford presents us also with the history which the Brahmens have manufactured for placing Mahomed among the great men of Hindustan. It is of much importance, to elucidate the accounts, which are given by the Hindus, not only of the actions, but of the very persons and existence, of their pretended heroes. I should otherwise have been well pleased to omit a story, tainted with that indelicacy, which, even when they are inventing, and have the circumstances at their own selection, marks the writings of an uncultivated people. “The Hindus say, that the son of a certain King of India, being disgusted with the world, turned pilgrim, and went to Mocsheswarast’hana (or Mecca). In his way thither, and in Arabia, he stopped at the house of a Brahmen, who received him kindly, and ordered his daughter to wait on him as usual. Whilst asleep, the cloth with which his loins were covered was accidentally defiled. When he awoke, he took it off, and concealed it in a corner of the house, in some hole, and out of the sight of the damsel, as he thought. Being from home, to perform his ablutions, in consequence of this nocturnal defilement, the damsel came at the usual hour; and her courses suddenly making their appearance, she was much distressed, and looking every where for some cloth, she spied the bundle—in short she conceived. He departed for Mecca: and some months after, the parents of the damsel and herself were thrown into the greatest confusion, as may be imagined. The holy man was considered as the author of their disgrace; though the damsel exculpated him: Yet she could not account for her present situation. She was, like Hagar, turned out of the house into the wilderness with her son: where they were miraculously preserved, both being innocent. Some years after the holy man returned, unconscious of his having been the cause of so much uneasiness to the family of the hospitable Brahmen. After much abuse, the matter was explained; but the son of the damsel could not be admitted to share with his relatives, or even to remain in their communion. He was, however, honourably dismissed with his mother, after they had given him a suitable education, and rich presents; and they advised him to shift for himself, and to set up a new religion, as he could not be considered as a member of the old one, on account of his strange birth, or rather conception. When advanced in years, he wished to see his paternal relations and India; and to persuade them to conform to his new doctrine; but he died in his way thither, at Medina, near Candáhár. This Medina is Ghazni, called emphatically the second Medina, from the great number of holy men entombed there: and it is obvious that the Hindus have confounded Muhammed with Sultan-Mahmood, whose sumptuous Mausoleum is close to that city. Thus we see, that the account they give of Muhammed is a mere rhapsody, retaining some of the principal features of the history of Ishmael, Hagar, Muhammed himself, and Sultan-Mahmood.—This Samvat, or era, of Maha’bhat (Muhammed), was early introduced into India, and the Hindus were obliged to use it, as they do now in all their civil transactions; and thus Muhammed became at least a Sambatica or Santica. According to the rules laid down by the learned in India, Muhammed is certainly a Saca and Saceswara, and is entitled to the epithet of Vicrama. He is a Saca, or mighty chief; and, like other Sacas, he killed his millions; he is Saceswara, or the ruler of a sacred period, still in use in India. For these reasons, the Pandits, who assisted Abul-Fazil, did not scruple to bestow the title of Vicramaditya upon him; and even to consider him as the real worthy of that name; and in order to make the era, or at least the time of Vicramaditya’s appearance coincide with the era of Mohammed, they have most shamefully distorted the chronology of the appendix to the Agni-purana. Mr. Wilford, Asiat. Res. ix. 159, 160, 161. See a still more extraordinary attempt to foist the story of Jesus Christ, borrowed from the spurious gospels, into the Puranas; and to make Christ at one time Chrishna, at another time Salivahana, at another time Buddha. Essay on the Origin and Decline of Christianity in India, by Captain Wilford, Asiat. Res. x.
The word Hindustan is in this work generally used to signify, comprehensively, the land of the Hindus, from Cape Comorin to the farthest boundary of the country which they inhabited. It is necessary to mention, that in the oriental books, it has often a more limited signification, being appropriated to that part of the land of the Hindus, which is north of the river Nerbudda
See the inscription found at Monghir, and translated in the Asiat. Res. i. 123. That found at Buddal, Ibid. p. 130.—That found at Tanna, Ibid. p. 357.—Those from the Vindhya mountains, Ibid. ii. 168, 169.—That on the staff of Feeroz Shah, Ibid. p. 382.—That respecting a grant of land in Carnatic, Ibid. iii. 40–47.—That found in the district of Gorakhpur, Ibid. ix. 410.—That found at Chitradurg, Ibid. p. 418, 419, 420.—That found at Curugode, Ibid. p. 436, 437, 438.—Those found at Nedigal and Goujda, Ib. p. 447.
See the inscriptions translated in the Asiat. Researches, i. 360, 123, 125; iii. 48, 52; ix. 406, 418. The inscription, cut on a stone, upon the hill of Belligola, in front of the great Jain image, bears a similar testimony. “In the year of the Saca 1290 (A. D. 1367).....be success and glory to the honourable monarch, the sovereign and destroyer of envious princes, lord of foreign king, whose name is Buccaraya.” (Asiat. Res. ix. 270.)
Asiat. Res. i. 360.
The inscription on the Lāt (staff) of Feerōz Shah, celebrates the monarch, in whose honour it has been erected, “for having achieved conquest in the course of travelling to holy places—as resentful to haughty kings, and indulgent to those whose necks are humbled—making Ariaverta [the land of virtue or of respectable men] once more what its name signifies, by causing the barbarians to be exterminated. —Visala Deva, son of the fortunate Vella Deva, king of Sacambari, the situation of which the translator does not know, most eminent of the tribe which sprang from the arms of Brahma—boasts of having rendered tributary the region of the earth between Himavat (the Imaus of ancient geographers) and Vindhya (the range of hills which passes through the provinces of Bahar, Benares) and exhorts his descendants to subdue the remainder."—No proof, all this, of the peaceful state of Hindostan. The inscription continues—"May thy abode, O Vigraha, sovereign of the earth, be fixed, as in reason it ought, in the bosoms, akin to the mansions of dalliance, of the women with beautiful eyebrows, who were married to thy enemies."—The abuse of an enemy’s wives is no great proof of a generous or civilized conqueror. The inscription then deifies this same Rajah. “Art thou not Vishnu himself? Art thou not he who slept in the arms of Lacshm, whom thou didst seize from the ocean, having churned it?"—Are epithets of extravagant praise to the deity surprising, when they are thus heaped upon a mortal? (As. Res. ii. 382.) The account of the Sacas affords important proof of the glory that was attached by the Hindus to the shedding of blood. The Cali yug is divided into six Sacas, so called from six glorious monarchs. Of these, three have made their appearance; three are yet to come. To become a Saca, each of these monarchs must have first killed 550,000,000 of a certain mighty tribe of heretics, called Sacas. The first of these blood-thirsty sovereigns was Judishter, whose period was 3044 years; the second Vicramaditya, whose saca lasted only 135 years; the third, Salivahana, whose period is to last 18,000 years; the fourth Nandada, 10,000 years; the fifth Nargarjuna, 400,000 years; for the sixth, will re-appear the Antediluvian Bah, whose period will be 821 years, at which period a general renovation of the world will take place. Wilford, Asiat. Res. ix. 82.
Rennel’s Memoir, p. 1.
Sonnerat, Voy. liv. iii. ch. ii. Their very laws and religion encourage a spirit of restlessness, and warfare; “Fully performing all duties required by law, let a king seek to possess regions yet unpossessed.” (Laws of Menu, ch. ix. 251.) This gives implicit encouragement to a spirit of conquest. The gloss of Culluca, the commentator, inserts the words with justice, a saving clause; but even then, the practical effect of the law is but too visible.
In the Bhagavat, (See Maurice, Hist. of Hindustan, ii. 395,) Creshna says, he does not vaunt, “though he carried away Rokemence from so numerous an assemblage of monarchs.” When Creshna fought with the seven bulls of Koosele, great numbers of rajahs and rajpoots were collected to see the conflict. Ib. p. 402. Bhoom Assoor had collected the daughters of 16,000 rajahs. Ib. p. 405. Rajah Doorjoodhen, sovereign of Hastanapoor, had a daughter who was courted by rajahs and rajpoots from every quarter. Ib. 413. Twenty thousand and eight hundred rajahs of eminence were held in confinement by Jarasandha, and released upon his destruction by Creeshna and Rama. Ib. p. 433. When Creeshna carried away Rokemenee, Jarasandha said, “This is surely most astonishing, that, in the presence of so many crowned heads as are here assembled, this cowherd should make so bold an effort.” Ib. p. 394.
Hetopadesa, in Sir William Jones’s Works, vi. 43.
Ib. p. 44.
Ibid. p. 51.
Asiat. Res. i. 123.
Asiat. Res. i. 123. The third stanza of this inscription, omitted by Mr. Wilkins, but translated by Sir W. Jones, affords additional proof that these conquests were but an irruption: “By whom, having conquered the earth as far as the ocean, it was left as being unprofitably seized.” Ibid. p. 142. In the inscription on the pillar near Buddal, found by Mr. Wilkins, is described a race of princes who originally, it is said, ruled over “but one quarter, and had no authority in other regions;” but one of the line, “being a virtuous prince, became supreme over every country without reserve, and the three worlds were held in subjection by his hereditary rank.” The dominions of his son and successor extended from Reva Jauak, to the father of Gowree, and to the two oceans, &c. and all this country, the prince Sree Dev Pal rendered tributary. Ibid. p. 134. Yet Sir W. Jones says, that this race of princes were all along only prime ministers to the House of Devu Pal: p. 142. Nothing can be more contradictory to the text; but it is necessary for Sir William’s theory that the kings of Gaur, of whom Devupal was one, should be the lords paramount of India. Sir William, when he had a theory, seems to have had eyes to see nothing but what made in its favour. An additional proof of the small kingdoms of Hindustan is found in the inscription (As. Res. i. 133, stanza xiii.) “The king of Gowr” (Bengal) “for a long time enjoyed the country of the eradicated race of Oothal” (Orixia,) “of the Hoons” (Huns,) “of humbled pride, of the kings of Draveer” (a country to the south of the Carnatic,) “and Goojar” (Goozerat,) “whose glory was reduced, and the universal sea-girt throne.” Another grant of land (Ib. p. 357) affords evidence to the same purpose: a number of kings are actually named in the royal grant. As. Res. iii. 48.
See Gentoo Code, passim.
Halhed’s Gentoo Code, ch. iii. sect. 6. p. 106, 107.
Laws of Menu, ch. vii. p. 154, 155. Even Robertson, though a firm believer in the universal monarchy, is forced to allow that it had not yet existed in the time of Alexander. “In the age of Alexander, though there was not established in it any powerful empire, resembling that which in modern times stretched its dominion from the Indus almost to Cape Comorin, it was even then formed into monarchies of considerable extent.” Robertson’s Disq. concerning ancient India, p. 21. But the times of Alexander, and times long antecedent, are the times fixed upon by the Brahmens, for this perpetually asserted, but never ascertained empire. To what modern times does Robertson allude? for he himself gives it as true information, that in the tenth century, there were four kingdoms in the north part alone of India. “The first was composed of the provinces situated on the Indus, and the rivers which fall into it; the capital of which was Moultan. The capital of the second kingdom was Canoge, which, from the ruins of it remaining, appears to have been a very large city. The third kingdom was Cachemire. Massoudi, as far as I know, is the first author who mentions this paradise of India, of which he gives but a short description. The fourth is the kingdom of Guzerate, which he represents as the greatest and most powerful; and he concurs with the two Arabian travellers, in giving the sovereign of it the appellation of Balhara.” Ibid. Note xxxvii. p. 332.
The inconsistencies of the believers in the great empire of Hindustan are miserable. Mr. Maurice tells us that Bali, “if that name imply not rather a dynasty of princes than an individual monarch,” [a shrewd suspicion] “was the puissant sovereign of a mighty empire, extending over the vast continent of India; that under Rama, the next in succession, there is every appearance of its having remained unbroken; that Judishter is generally acknowledged to have been the sovereign of all India.” Maurice, Hist. ii. 511. Yet both Mr. Maurice and Sir W. Jones believe Rama to be the Raamah of Scripture, the son of Cush, Genesis, ch. x. ver. 7, in whose days it was impossible that any considerable part of India could be peopled. See Sir W. Jones, Asiat. Res. ii. 401, and Mr. Maurice, Hist. iii. 104. Bali, the Baal, and Bel, of other eastern nations, who is also said to have been the first king of Assyria, was not a name of any particular person, but a title assumed by many, and those of different nations. It is in fact a title of the sun. (See Bryant’s Myth.) Judishter, too, it is remarkable, was the cotemporary of Rama, both being heroes in the war of the Mahabarat. For the performance of the Raisoo yug, it was not necessary, as they pretend, to conquer all princes, since at Judishter’s yug, the father of Cansa, whom Creeshna, after the death of Cansa, seated on the throne of Mathura, was not conquered by Judishter. Nay it is remarkable that this yug was celebrated while Judishter was yet a dependent upon Doorjoodhen, before the war of the Pandoos. Even after the war of the Mahabharat, when they assure us, for certain, that Judishter was king of all India, Ogur Sein, the grandfather of Creeshna, was reigning at Mathura; Creeshna and the Yadavas were all flourishing. See the Mahabharat, translated by Halhed; Maurice, History of India, ii. 463.
“In so far as the Hindu superstition tends to estrange mankind by creating artificial sources of mutual aversion and disgust; so far certainly does it counteract the real interests of society. Let it not be urged that the practical effects of the artificial separation of the Asiatics are not greatly felt in society; or that a Brahmin or Rajah will as readily supply the wants of the poorer classes as he would those of his own. The fact is otherwise; the Brahmin considers his order as in some measure a different race of beings; and imagines that the lower ranks are incapable of the same sensibility to suffering: he regards them as a race whose feelings are deadened by the meanness of their intellect, and therefore not entitled to the same share of compassion. That this is the idea of the princes and civil magistrates throughout India, their own conduct sufficiently evinces; hence the severity of their government, the rigour of their punishments, and their universal indifference to the comfort, and even the lives of their subjects.” Tennant’s Indian Recreations, i. 121.
Wilkins’ Hetopadesa, p. 161.
Ibid. p. 82.
Ibid. p. 160.
Ibid. p. 166.
Ibid. p. 176. The following maxim, among many others in the book, is a proof of the idle and useless life of the rajahs, who devolved all business upon their ministers, and wallowed in sensuality and sloth. “The sovereign being a vessel for the distribution of happiness, and not for the execution of affairs, the minister, who shall bring ruin upon the business of the state is a criminal.” (Ibid. p. 142.) The last article of the following character of a good minister is an abundant proof of the rapacious nature of the government; “A king should engage for his minister one who is a native of his own country; pure in all his ways and cleanly in his dress; not one who is an outcast, addicted to idle pleasures, or too fond of women; but one of good repute, who is well versed in the rules of disputation, is of a firm mind, and expert in raising a revenue.” Ibid. p. 179. See also the Inscription respecting a Royal Grant, Asiat. Res. iii. 48.
Wilkins’ Hetopadesa, p. 242.
Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. ii 410.
Another remarkable circumstance. The fisherman informs the officers he gives them his present to purchase wine; on which they cry, “Oh! now thou art our beloved friend.—Good wine is the first object of our affection.—Let us go together to the vintners.” Sacontala, act v.
Halhed’s Gentoo Code, ch. xv. sect. 2.
Ibid. xxi. 10.
The self-abasement of the Hindus, before their kings, is decisive proof of a merciless government. “The sovereign, although but a child, is not to be despised, but to be respected as a man; or as a mighty divinity who presideth in human form.” Wilkins’ Hetopadesa, p. 117. “They performed prostration to their princes, falling down with eight members, as they expressed their abject and grovelling mode of approach.” Ibid. note 137. “Plus un gouvernement est despotique, plus les ames y sont avilies et degradées; plus l’on s’y vante d’aimer son tyran. Les esclaves benissent à Maroc leur sort et leur Prince, lorsqu’il daigne lui-mème leur couper le cou.” Helvetius de l’Homme, i. 318.
Halhed’s Gentoo Code, ch. xvi. sect. 1.
Wilford, on the Chronology of the Hindus, Asiat. Res. v. 284. There is a passage in Quintus Curtius which would lead us to conclude that India was not thickly inhabited in the times of Alexander. Speaking of Alexander’s march into the interior of India, after the overthrow of Darms, he says; “Ad magnam deinde, ut in eu regione, urbem pervenit.” (Curt. lib. ix. cap. 1.) Not a syllable escapes from this author indicative of a populous country. He styles the inhabitants, “Barbari—operum militarium rudes.” Ibid. cap. viii. The names of the separate nations which Alexander found in India are numerous.
Orme, on the Government and People of Hindustan, p. 434, 435, 436. “Quelques missionaires, tels que le P. de Magistris, le Danois F. Schwartz, le P. Jean de Brito, dans une relation manuscrite que j’ai entre les mains, accusent les rois payens d’exercer des oppressions intolerables envets leurs sujets. M. Anquetil du Perron tâche de justifier les souverains. ∗ ∗ ∗ Je pourrais demontrer avec une historique evidence que M. Anquetil ne connait pas l’Inde. ∗ ∗ ∗ Il est certain qu’il se commettait de grands abus dans l’exercise de l’autorité royale, et je pense que ce fut là la principale cause de la chῦte des rois de Maduré, de Maïssour, de Tanjaur, et de Marava. Quoique ces rois fussent tous payens, de la premiere noblesse, et indigénes, sans cesse ils se faisaient la guerre reciproquement, et presque tous vexaient le peuple.” Voyage aux Indes Orientales par le P. Paulin, de S. Bartelemy, i. 87. M. Anquetil Duperron, in a note, (Ibid. iii. 365,) falls into a curious coincidence with, and confirmation of, the above passage of Paulin, at the same time that he is controverting it:—"Le missionaire n’a pas lu l’histoire de l’Inde, n’est pas meme aut fait de ce qui se passe tous les jours. Quoique le caractere propre de l’Indien soit la douceur, l’humanité, on voit encore dans cette contrée, comme ailleurs, des querelles entre les princes naturels Indiens, des querelles dans les familles; les chefs Marattes sont presque toujours divisés, et en guerres. Le Tanjaur, le Maduré, le Maissour, le Samorin, Narsingue, le Canara, offraient la mème spectacle lorsque la puissance des Rajahs étoit dans sa vigueur; il en est de mème de ceux de Bengale, du reste de l’Indoustan.” Bernier, who had no theory on Indian affairs, but who displays more personal knowledge of the country than almost any other European, thus describes the Rajahs. Ce sortes de rois barbares n’ont aucune veritable generosité, et ne sont guere retenus par la foi qu’ils ont promise, ne regardant qu’à leurs interets presents, sans songer meme aux malheurs qui leur peuvent arriver de leur perfidie, et de leur brutalité. Revol. des Etats Mogol. p. 174. “The ryots have every reason to dread the prevalence of the Mahratta power; of that power, which yields them up to the tyranny and oppression of their chiefs; which affords no protection to its subjects; which is perpetually at war with its neighbours; and which has, in effect, laid waste the greatest part of Hindostan.” Sir H. Strachey, Report as Judge of Circuit, Fifth Report of the Committee on India Affairs, 1810, p. 568, sect. 17. La politique de leurs princes doit tenir de leur gouvernement.—d’une main on les voit signer une traité, et de l’autre ils jurent la perte de celui avec lequel ils font alliance. Anquetil Duperron, Zendavesta, cxvii. “The annals of Persia,” says Mr. Scott Waring, “contain little more than a uniform tale of wretchedness and misery, of murder and treachery; and the mind, wearied and disgusted with this uniformity of vice, is hurried away to a contemplation of similar causes and events.” Tour to Sheeraz, p. 267.
There can be no rational doubt that what by European eyes has been seen to be the detail of government, in the hands of the Hindus, though under Mogul principals, was a fair picture of what had been the detail of government under Hindu principals; administration in the hands of Mogul magistrates being, according to all testimony, less oppressive than administration in the hands of Hindus. The same intelligent and unexceptionable witness, Mr. Orme, goes on to say: “Imitation has conveyed the unhappy system of oppression which prevails in the government of Indostan throughout all ranks of the people, from the highest even to the lowest subject of the empire. Every head of a village calls his habitation the Durbar, and plunders of their meal and roots the wretches of his precinct; from him the Zemindar extorts the small pittance of silver, which his penurious tyranny has scraped together: the Phousdar seizes upon the greatest share of the Zemindar’s collections, and then secures the favour of his Nabob by voluntary contributions, which leave him not possessed of the half of his rapines and exactions: the Nabob fixes his rapacious eye on every portion of wealth which appears in his province, and never tails to carry off part of it: by large deductions from these acquisitions, he purchases security from his superiors, or maintains it against them at the expense of a war.—Subject to such oppressions, property in Indostan is seldom seen to descend to the third generation.” Orme, on the Government and People of Indostan, p. 450, 451. The following is another stroke in the formation of the same picture. “The Havildar plunders the village, and is himself fleeced by the Zemindar; the Zemindar by the Phousdar; the Phousdar by the Nabob or his Duan. The Duan is the Nabob’s head slave: and the Nabob compounds on the best terms he can make, with his Subah, or the throne.—Wherever this gradation is interrupted, bloodshed ensues.” Ibid. p. 402. “In every city, and in every considerable town, is appointed a guard, directed by proper officers, whose duty it is to coerce and punish all such crimes and misdemeanours as affect the policy of that district, and are at the same time of too infamous or of too insignificant a nature to be admitted before the more solemn tribunal of the Durbar. These ministers of justice are called the Catwall; and a building bearing the same name is allotted for their constant resort. At this place are perpetually heard the clamours of the populace: some demanding redress for the injury of a blow or a bad name; others for a fraud in the commerce of farthings: one wants assistance to take, another has taken a thief; some offering themselves as bondsmen; others called upon for witnesses. The cries of wretches under the scourge, and the groans of expiring criminals, complete a scene of perfect misery and confusion. After these employments of the day, parties are sent from the Catwall to patrole and watch through the town by night. In such governments, where the superiors are lost to all sense of humanity, the most execrable of villanies are perpetrated by this institution, designed to prevent them. The Catwall enters into treaty with a band of rubbers, who receive from hence the intelligence necessary to direct their exploits, and in return pay to it a stipulated portion of their acquisitions: besides the concessions necessary to secure impunity when detected, one part of the band is appointed to break into houses, another assaults the traveller upon the road, a third the merchant upon the rivers. I have seen these regulated villains commit murders in the face of day, with such desperate audacity as nothing but the confidence of protection could inspire.” Ibid. p. 452, 453.
They have always allowed themselves to be conquered in detail, just as the tribes of Gauls and Germans, by the Romans. Gaul, however, cost Julius Cæsar himself five years to subdue; and it several times carried fire and sword to the gates of Rome. The Gauls must have known much more of the art of war than the Hindus. See the fine generalship of Vercingetorix described by the conqueror himself in the 7th book of his commentaries; and analysed by Guischardt, Memoires Militaires sur les Grecs et les Romains, ch. xvi.—"The most remarkable of these new states were the Polygars of Chittledroog, Raidroog, Harponelly, Tarrikera, with many others of inferior note, whose united efforts might have opposed a respectable barrier to Mohammedan encroachment, if united efforts could be expected from restless savages, perpetually occupied by intestine quarrels.” (Wilks’ Hist. Sketches, p. 63.) Wilks say, (p. 23) that the Hindu character exhibits but few shades of distinction, wheresoever found. It follows, that no where is it far removed from the savage state.
To some persons it may be of use to hear, that the sober good sense of Major Rennel makes him reject the theory of union. “History gives us the most positive assurances, that India was divided into a number of kingdoms or states, from the time of Herodotus, down to that of Acbar.” (Rennel’s Mem. Introd. p. xxxii.)
Witness, Nepaul, and the strong districts along the Malabar coast, where the reign of the Hindu princes had been not at all or very little disturbed. For an account of Nepaul, see the history of Col. Kirkpatrick’s embassy; and of the Malabar coast, among other works, Voyage de P. Paulin; Sonnerat; and Anquetil Duperron; above all, the Journey of Dr. Buchanan, through Mysore, Canara, and Malabar.—"Mr. Wilford states, in the ninth volume of the Asiatic Researches, that the kings of Behar or Megadha were for many ages the sovereigns or lords-paramount of India. If such was the case, their descendants must have degenerated exceedingly; for at the period of the Mohammedan invasion, the Raja, instead of heading his army, in defence of his country and religion, shamefully absconded, leaving his capital, then a celebrated seat of Hindu learning (whence its name of Behar) so destitute, that it was taken by a detachment of 200 men, who put a number of the unopposing Brahmens to the sword, and plundered all the inhabitants.” (Hist. of Bengal, by Charles Stewart, Esq. p. 40.) Mr. Stewart speaks with judgment. Every thing in the state of India, as it was originally found by the Mahommedans, bears testimony against the fiction of a great monarchy, great prosperity, and great civilization.
“Quæ anus,” says Cicero, “tam excors inveniri potest, quæ illa quæ quondam credebantur apud inferos portenta extimescat?” (De Nat. Deor. lib. ii. cap. 2.)
Goguet, Origin of Laws, part ii. book i. ch. iv. art. 8.
In all parts of India, where things have not been altered by the influence of the Mahomedan government, the Hindus are found collected in villages, not in detached habitations; “a custom,” says Millar, (English Gov. i. 70,) “introduced by necessity in times of extreme barbarity and disorder.”
Rennel’s Memoir, p. 6.
Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. ii. 434. “It is a fact, that there is not a road in the country made by Hindoos, except a few which lead to holy places.” A View of the History, Literature, and Religion of the Hindoos, &c. By the Rev. W. Ward, one of the Baptist Missionaries at Serampore, Introd. p. lviii.
Tennant’s Indian Recreations, ii. 13, 14, 323.
Forster’s Travels, i. 74.—Tennant’s Indian Recreations, ii. 69.
See some observations on Dow, by Mr. Edward Scott Waring, Tour to Sheeraz, p. 15.
Speaking of the Mohamedan governments in the Deccan, Colonel Wilks says: “These princes had arrived at that stage of civilization in which gorgeous and awkward splendour covered the most gross political darkness.” (Historical Sketches, p. 65.)
See the Analysis of Tooril Mull’s System of Finance, in British India Analysed, i. 191. These copper pieces were called pulsiah or feloos, sixteen of which were reckoned equal to a Tunkah of base silver; a sort of coin, or rather medal, sometimes struck, at the pleasure of the king, not for use, but to make presents to foreign ambassadors, and others. “Trade must, therefore,” says the author, “have been carried on chiefly by barter; the rents for the most part paid in kind."—In the Deccan, a gold and silver coin was known earlier; which the same author thinks must have been introduced by the intercourse of the Persians and Arabians, to whom the use of coin had been known nearly a thousand years before. (Ibid. p. 194.) See an instructive dissertation on this point in “Researches on India,” by Q. Craufurd, Esq. i. 36–80. Yet this author, p. 80–84, is a firm believer in the great riches of India.
Agatharchides gives the most magnificent description of the riches of the Sabians. “Their expense of living rivals the magnificence of princes. Their houses are decorated with pillars glistening with gold and silver. Their doors are crowned with vases and beset with jewels; the interior of their houses corresponds with the beauty of their outward appearance, and all the riches of other countries are here exhibited in a variety of profusion. (See the account extracted and translated, in Vincent’s Periplus, part i. p. 33. See also Strabo, lib. xvi. p. 778.) In the barbarous state of the ancient Russian court at Moscow, there was the highest degree of magnificence and splendour. The Earl of Carlisle, giving an account of his embassy, says, that he could see nothing but gold and precious stones, in the robes of the Czar, and his courtiers.—The treasure of Sardanapalus was a thousand myriads of talents of gold, at the lowest estimation, 44, 174,999,760l. (Herodot. lib. ii. cap. 150; Athenæi Deipnosop. lib. xii.; Gibbon sur la Monarchie des Medes, Miscel. Works, 8vo. Ed. iii. 68.)—"What is said to be given by David (1 Chron. xxii. 14, 15, 16, and xxix. 3, 4, 5,) and contributed by his princes, xxix. 6, 7, 8,) toward the building of the temple at Jerusalem, if valued by the Mosaic talents, exceeded the value of 800,000,000l. of our money.” (Prideaux, Connexion of the History of the Old and New Testament, i. 5. Edit. 5th.) The Arcadian who was sent ambassador to the court of the king of Persia, in the days of Agesilaus, saw through the glare of eastern magnificence. 耉 δε Αντοχος απηγγειλε προς τθς μυριθς, ο’τι βασιλευς αρτοκοπ[Editor: illegible character]ς, και οψοποι[Editor: illegible character]ς, και οινοχο[Editor: illegible character]ς, και θυρωρ[Editor: illegible character]ς παμπλ[Editor: illegible character]θεις, εχι ανδρας δε, άι μαχοινΤ’ αν Ελληρι, απανν ςθτων [Editor: illegible character]κ αν εφη δυνασαι ιδειν. προς δε τ[Editor: illegible character]τοις, και το των χρηματων πληθος αλαζονειαν όι γε δοκειν ειναι επφη· επει και τθν ύμν[Editor: illegible character]μενην αν χρυσ[Editor: illegible character]ν πλατανον [Editor: illegible character]χ κανην εφη ειναι τετδιγι γκρεχειν. Xenophontis Græcorum, &c. lib. vii. sect. 1, near the end.)
Francklin’s Life of George Thomas, p. 103.
Orme, on the Government and People of Indostan, p. 420. The exquisite ignorance and stupidity of the Mysoreans in the art of war, while yet a purely Hindu people, is strongly remarked by Orme, i. 207. In the following description appears the simplicity of the fortification of Hindu towns; “A place that hath eight cose in length and breadth, and on the skirts of which, on all the four sides, is a ditch, and above the ditch, on all the four sides, a wall or parapet, and on all the four sides of it are bamboos, and on the east or north side thereof, a hollow or covered way, such place is called Nigher, or a city; in the same manner, if it hath four cose in length and breadth, it is called Gherbut, or a small city.” Gentoo Code, ch. xiv. See also Motte’s Journey to Orissa, As. An. Reg. i. 51, 67.—"The fortifications of places of the first order formerly consisted, and in many places still consist, in one or two thick walls, flanked with round or triangular towers. A wide and deep ditch is on the outside; but as the Hindus are unskilful in the construction of bridges, they always leave a causeway from the gate of the town over the ditch.” The Abbé Dubois, p. 543.—See a curious testimony to the imperfection of the military art among the Mahrattas, (Broughton’s Letters from a Mahratta Camp, p. 107, 108); and another, still more remarkable, to the wretched pusillanimity of the rajpoots, those boasted descendants of the supposed magnanimous Cshatriyas, a pusillanimity, which, according to Mr. Broughton, forfeits their title even to pity, while “possessing so many advantages, they voluntarily bend their necks to one of the most galling yokes in the world.” Ibid. p. 133.
Asiat. Res. i. 354.
Ibid. iv. 159.
Craufurd’s Sketches. Sir William Jones says, “We may readily believe those who assure us, that some tribes of wandering Tartars had real skill in applying herbs and minerals to the purpose of medicine;” the utmost pretended extent of the medical science of the Hindus. As. Res. ii. 40. See Tennant’s Indian Recreations, for some important details, i. 357; Buchanan’s Journey through Mysore, &c. i. 336.—"Medicine,” says the last intelligent observer, “in this country has indeed fallen into the hands of charlatans equally impudent and ignorant.” Ibid. “There are not indeed wanting several persons who prescribe in physic, play upon a variety of musical instruments, and are concerned in some actions and performances which seem at least to suppose some skill in nature or mathematics. Yet all this is learned merely by practice, long habit, and custom; assisted for the most part with great strength of memory, and quickness of invention.” (Shaw’s Travels, speaking of the people of Barbary, p. 263.) The good sense of Colonel Wilks has made that instructive writer use the following terms: “The golden age of India, like that of other regions, belongs exclusively to the poet. In the sober investigation of facts, this imaginary era recedes still farther and farther at every stage of the inquiry; and all that we find is still the empty praise of the ages which have passed.....If the comparative happiness of mankind in different ages be measured by its only true and rational standard, namely, the degree of peace and security which they shall be found collectively and individually to possess, we shall certainly discover, in every successive step towards remote antiquity, a larger share of wretchedness to have been the portion of the human race.....The force of these observations, general in their nature, is perhaps more strongly marked in the history of India than of any other region of the earth. At periods long antecedent to the Mohammedan invasion, wars, revolutions, and conquests, seem to have followed each other, in a succession more strangely complex, rapid, and destructive, as the events more deeply recede into the gloom of antiquity. The rude valour, which had achieved a conquest, was seldom combined with the sagacity requisite for interior rule; and the fabric of the conquered state, shaken by the rupture of its ancient bonds, and the substitution of instruments, clumsy, unapt, and misapplied, either fell to sudden ruin, or gradually dissolved.” Historical Sketches of the South of India, by Lieut. Col. Mark Wilks, p. 1, 2.
The barbarians from Germany and Scythia quickly learned the discipline of the Roman armies, and turned their own arts against the legions. See Gibbon, vii. 377. The Hindus have never been able, without European officers, to avail themselves of European discipline.
The monastery of Bangor, demolished by Adelfrid, the first king of Northumberland, was so extensive, that there was a mile’s distance from one gate of it to another, and it contained two thousand one hundred monks, who are said to have been there maintained by their own labour. (Hume’s England, i. 41.) “Les Etrusques, predecesseurs des Romains, et les premiers peuples de l’Italie sur lesquels l’histoire jette quelque lueur.....paroissent avoir devancé les Grecs dans la carriere des sciences et des arts, bien qu’ils n’aient pas pu, comme leurs successeurs, la parcourir toute entiere. Les poetes ont placé au milieu d’enx l’age d’or sous le regne de Saturne, et leurs fictions n’ont voilé qu’à demi la verité.—Comme nous ne savons pas même le nom des ecrivains Etrusques ou Tyrrheniens, et que ces peuples ne nous sont connus que par quelques fragmens d’historiens Grecs et Latins, ils resteront toujours enveloppés d’une grande obscurité. Cependant nous avons une indication de leur puissance, dans les murailles colossales de Volterra; de leur gout, dans les vases qui nous sont restés d’eux; de leur savoir, dans le culte de Jupiter Elicius, auqucl ils attribuerent l’art qu’ils connurent et que nous avons retrouvés, d’eviter et de diriger la foudre.” Simonde de Sismondi, Hist. des Rep. Ital. Introd. p. iii. These Tuscans cannot have been advanced beyond the stage of semi-barbarism; and yet here are proofs of a progress in the arts, with which the Hindus have nothing to compare.—The Afghauns use a water-mill for grinding their corn. “It is also used in the north of India, under the Sireenugger hills; but, in general, no water-mills are known in India, where all grain is ground with the hand.” Elphinstone’s Caubul, p. 307.
The Hindus are often found to be orderly and good servants at Calcutta, Madras, &c. This is but a fallacious proof of civilization. Hear Lord Macartney in his account of Russia. “All the inhabitants of Siberia, Casan, and the eastern provinces of Russia, to the sea of Kamschatka, who are not Christians, are confounded under the general name of Tartars. Many of these come to the capital in order to procure employment, either as workmen or domestics, and are exceedingly sober, acute, dextrous, and faithful.” Barrow’s Life of Lord Macartney, ii. 26. “Calmack servants are greatly esteemed all over Russia, for their intelligence and fidelity.” Mr. Heber’s Journal, in Clarke’s Travels in Russia, p. 241. “I recollect,” adds Dr. Clarke, “seeing some of them in that capacity among English families in Petersburg. The most remarkable instance ever known of an expatriated Calmuck, was that of an artist employed by the Earl of Elgin, whom I saw, (a second Auacharsis, from the plains of Scythia) executing most beautiful designs among the rums of Athens. Some Russian family had previously sent him to finish his studies in Rome, where he acquired the highest perfection in design. He had the peculiar features, and many of the manners, of the nomade Calmucks.” Ibid. The negroes, when properly treated, make faithful, affectionate, and good servants.—But it is more than doubtful whether the Hindus do in reality make those good servants we have heard them called. Dr. Gilchrist says (Preface to his Hindostanee Dictionary, printed at Calcutta, 1787, p. 27)—and Lord Teignmouth repeats, (Considerations, &c. on communicating to the Natives of India the Knowledge of Christianity p. 82) “that he cannot hesitate about beheving the fact—that among a thousand servants of all descriptions whom he had trusted and employed, he had the luck to meet with one only whom he knew to be upright in his conduct.” By the author of that interesting little book, entitled, Sketches of India, or Observations descriptive of the Scenery, &c. in Bengal, written in India in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814, p. 13, we are told that when you are travelling in India, “An object of attention which must excite peculiar attention in every honourable mind, is the thefts and depredations which are apt to he committed at every bazar or market, and indeed whenever opportunity offers, both by your own servants and the boatmen, Astonishing as this may seem, it is an undoubted fact that these people pillage every step they take; and, to escape the just indignation of the sufferers, shelter themselves under the name of their innocent master, to whom these poor wretches are often afraid to refer.”
Forster’s Travels, ii. 135.
Gibbon, i. 342.
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Gibbon, Hist. Decl. and Fall, &c. vii. 304. Some ancient sculpture in the vicinity of Shahpoor in honour of Sapo the First, “represents a king, seated in state, amid a group of figures standing before him, one of whom offers two heads to the monarch’s notice. If we wanted other evidence, this alone would mark the state of civilization to which a nation had advanced, that could suffer its glory to be perpetuated by a representation of so barbarous a character.” Sir John Malcolm, Hist. of Persia, i. 254. No historical writings in ancient Persia: none in Hindustan.
Lord Macartney’s Journal, Barrow’s Life of Lord Macartney, ii. 279. In reading this passage, one seems to be reading an account of Hindu religion, temples, and sculpture.
Lord Macartney’s Journal, Barrow’s Life of Lord Macartney, ii. 357.
Barrow’s China, p. 585. A large portion of the country, wet, swampy ground, the rich alluvion of rivers, which might be easily gained; if the Chinese had but the skill. Ibid. p. 70, 83, 208, 533.
Barrow’s Life of Lord Macartney, ii. 357.
Barrow’s China, p. 513.
Ibid. p. 43.
Ibid. p. 561, 499.
Barrow’s Life of Lord Macartney, ii. 363.
Lord Macartney remarks that the Chinese had a very limited knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, “although from some of the printed accounts of China one might be led to imagine that they were well versed in them.” “Their affectation of the science of astronomy or astrology (for they have but one word in their language to express both,) induced them at a very remote period to establish a mathematical college or tribunal, the duty of which is to furnish to the nation an annual calendar, somewhat like our Poor Robin’s Almanack, with lists of all the lucky and unlucky days of the year, predictions of the weather, directions for sowing and reaping, &c. This branch entirely belongs to the Chinese doctors, who are chosen for the purpose from among the most celebrated philomaths of the nation.” Ibid. p. 481; See too Barrow’s China, 284, 291, 292, 295, 323.
Barrow’s China, p. 311, 512.
Barrow’s China, p. 101–330.
Ibid. p. 306, 323.
Similar traces are found in the following character of the Persians, drawn by a recent observer, Mr. Scott Waring, Tour to Sheeraz. “Mean and obsequious to their superiors and to their equals, if they have a prospect of advantage; but invariably arrogant and brutal in their behaviour towards their inferiors; always boasting of some action they never performed, and delighted with flattery, though they are aware of the imposition. I have repeatedly heard them compliment a person in his hearing, or in the presence of some one who would convey this adulation to his ears; and the instant that he has departed, their praises have turned into abuse:” p. 101. “Not the least reliance is to be placed on their words or most solemn protestations."....."They conceive it their duty to please; and to effect this, they forget all sentiments of honour and good faith."....."The Persians have but a faint notion of gratitude, for they cannot conceive that any one should be guilty of an act of generosity, without some simster motive:” p. 103. “Philosophers have held it for a maxim, that the most notorious liar utters a hundred truths for every falsehood. This is not the case in Persia; they are unacquainted with the beauty of truth, and only think of it when it is likely to advance their interests."...."The generality of Persians are sunk in the lowest state of profligacy and infamy; and they seldom hesitate alluding to crimes which are abhorred and detested in every civilized country in the universe.” The following is an important observation. (Voyage dans l’Empire Othoman, l’Egypt, et la Perse, par G. A. Olivier, v. 120.) “En Europe, il y a un espace immense entre les habitans des grandes villes et ceux des campagnes, entre l’homme bien élevé et celui qui ne l’est pas. Eu Perse, nous n’avons pas trouvé que cet espace fut bien grand: la classe pauvre des villes diffère tres-peu, pour l’esprit, les connaissances et les mœurs, de l’habitant des campagnes, et il n’y a pas non plus un grande difference, dans les villes, entre les riches et les pauvres. C’est presque partout la même conduite, la même allure, la même maniere de s’exprimer; ce sont les mêmes idées, et j’oserais presque dire la même instruction. Ici l’habitant des campagnes, celui-la même qui se trouve toute l’année sous la tente, et qui conduit ses troupeaux d’un pâturage à un autre, nous a paru plus delié, plus rusé, plus poli, plus instrut, que le cultivateur Européen un peu eloigné des grandes villes.”
Turner’s Embassy to Tibet, book i. ch. iv.
Turner’s Embassy to Tibet, book ii. ch. ii. The agriculture is promoted by artificial irrigation, the water being conveyed to the fields through hollow cylinders, formed of the trunks of trees. Ibid. book i. ch. vi.
Ibid. book ii. ch. ii.
Narrative of a Voyage to Cochin-China in 1778 by Mr. Chapman, in the Asiatic Annual Register for 1801, Miscellaneous Tracts, p. 85.
Ibid. p. 72. Of China, Mr. Barrow says, “There are no inus in any part of this vast empire; or, to speak more correctly (for there are resting-places,) no inhabited and furnished houses where, in consideration of paying a sum of money, a traveller may purchase the refreshments of comfortable rest, and of allaying the calls of hunger. The state of society admits of no such accommodation. What they call inns are mean hovels consisting of bare walls, where, perhaps, a traveller may procure his cup of tea, for a piece of copper money, and permission to pass the night; but this is the extent of the comforts which such places hold out.” Barrow’s China, p. 241. Such is the description of the Indian choultries; empty buildings into which the travellers may retire, but into which he must carry with him every accommodation, of which he stands in need. “The Kans, or Caravanseras,” says Volney, speaking of another Asiatic country, Syria, “afford only cells for the accommodation of travellers, with bare walls, dust, and sometimes scorpions. The keeper gives the lodger a key and a mat, and he must find every thing else himself.” Travels in Egypt, &c. ii. 420. “In the inland towns and villages of Barbary, there is, for the most part, a house set apart for the reception of strangers, with a proper officer (the Maharak, I think they call him) to attend it. Here persons are lodged and entertained, for one night, in the best manner the place will afford at the expence of the community.” Shaw’s Travels, Pref. p. ii.
Chapman’s Voyage, ubi supra, p. 73, 76. Sir George Staunton says, Embassy of Lord Macartney, i. 389: “The Cochin-Chinese seemed sufficiently dexterous and attentive, though with scarcely any principles of science, to make, on any substances which promised to be of use or comfort to them in private life, such trials and experiments, as were likely to produce beneficial results. In the culture of their lands, and in the few manufactures exercised amongst them, they were not behind nations where the sciences flourish.” “Though these people possessed not scientifically the art of reducing the metallic ore into the metal, they had attained the practice, for example, of making very good iron, as well as of manufacturing it afterwards, into match-locks, spears, and other weapons. Their earthenware was very neat. Their dexterity appeared in every operation they undertook:” p. 387.
Symes’ Embassy to Ava, ii. 326.—The following, too, are abundantly similar to corresponding features in the character of the Hindus. The Birmans, in some points of their disposition, display the ferocity of barbarians, and in others all the humanity and tenderness of polished life. They inflict the most savage vengeance on their enemies. As invaders, desolation marks their track; for they spare neither sex nor age. But at home they assume a different character. Ibid.
Ibid. iii. 96.
See Description of the Kingdom of Assam, &c. Asiat. An. Register for 1800, Miscellaneous Tracts, p. 43.
See Description of the Kingdom of Assam, &c. Asiat. An. Register for 1800, Miscellaneous Tracts, p. 43.
Ibid. p. 45.
See Description of the Kingdom of Assam, &c. Asiat. An. Register for 1800, Miscellaneous Tracts, p. 47, 48.
Goguet, Origin of Laws, part iii. book vi. ch. ii. He adds, “I should be greatly tempted to compare this nation with the Chinese. I think a good deal of resemblance and conformity is to be perceived between one people and the other.” Ibid. Had the Hindus been then as fully described as they are now, he would have found a much more remarkable similarity between them and the Egyptians.—Exaggeration was long in quitting its hold of Egypt. At the time of the Arabian conquest, in the seventh century, “We may read,” (says Gibbon, ix. 446) “in the gravest authors, that Egypt was crowded with 20,000 cities or villages: that exclusive of the Greeks and Arabs, the Copts alone were found on the assessment, six millions of tributary subjects, or twenty millions of either sex, and of every age: that three hundred millions of gold or silver were annually paid to the treasury of the Caliph.” He adds in a note, “And this gross lump is swallowed without scruple by d’Herbelot, Arbuthnot, and De Guignes. They might allege the not less extravagant liberality of Appian, in favour of the Ptolemies; an annual income of 185, or near 300 millions of pounds sterling; according as we reckon by the Egyptian or the Alexandrian talent.” If this be wonderful, what is to be said of the lumps swallowed by the admirers of the Hindus? Voltaire remarks, “Que les Egyptiens tant vantés pour leurs lois, leurs connaissances, et leurs pyramides, n’avaient presque jamais été qu’un peuple esclave, superstitieux et ignorant, dont tout le merite avait consisté à elever des rangs inutiles de pierres les unes sur les autres par l’ordre de leurs tyrans; qu’en bátissant leurs palais superbes ils n’avaient jamais su seulement former une voῦte; qu’ils ignoraient la coupe de pierres; que toute leur architecture consistait à poser de longues pierres plates sur des piliers sans proportion; que l’ancienne Egypte n’a jamais eu une statue tolerable que de la main des Grecs; que ni les Grecs ni les Romains n’ont jamais daigné traduire un seul livre des Egyptiens; que les elemens de geometrie composés dans Alexandrie le furent par un Grec, etc. etc.....on n’aperçoit dans les lois de l’Egypte que celles d’un peuple très borné.” Voltaire, Supplement à l’Essai sur les Mœurs, &c. Remarque Premier
Essay on the History of Astronomy, p. 27.