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the strict sense of religious law, forfeit their rank in the tribes they may be clatsed in. They were also, either forbidden fro:n embarking on the ocean, or they were deterred from undertaking marine expeditions, by the difficulties incurred in procuring at sea, the requisite diet for a Hindoo. The probability therefore is not apparent, that any part of a people, fenced in by this restriction, and who were so proudly centered in themselves, as to reje t with abhorrence, the admission of proselyes, would have emigrated into a distant country, and brought from thence a system of religious worship ; nor does any probable tradition authorise the belief of an Egyptian colony having been established in India.
The capacious space which Hindoftan occupies on the face of the globe, the advantages it derives from soil and climate, and from its numerous rivers, some of them of the first class of magnitude, may be adduced as reasonable arguments of its having been peopled at a more early period of time than Egypt, which does not possess the like local benefits. If the degree of perfection which manufactures have attained, be received as a criterion to judge of the progress of civilization, and if it be also admitted as a test of decid. ing on the antiquity of a people, who adopt no foreign improvements, little hesitation would occur, in bestowing the palm of precedence on Hindustan, whose fabrics of the most delicate and beautiful contexture, have been long held in admiration, and have hitherto stood unrivalled. Let me conclude this comparative view, with observing, and I trust dispassionately, that when we see a
people possesed of an ample stock of science of well digested ordinances, for the protection and improvement of society—and of a religion whose tenets consist of the utmost refinement, and variety of ceremony-and, at the same time, observe amongst other Aliatic nations, and the Egyptians of former times, but partial distributions of knowledge, law, and religion - we must be led to entertain a supposition, that the proprietors of the lesser, have been supplied from the sources of the greater fund. These reflections which have been furnished by experience and various information, will perhaps afford more satisfaction, than the laboured and perplexed proofs of dates and etymology, which are often framed, as they most commodiously accord with some favourite hypothesis.
Amongst the Hindoos, marriage, * when it can be performed with any degree of conveniency, is deemed an indispensable duty, and it is believed, that propagating the species in that state, entitles parents to fingular marks of the divine favour. They shew a disapprobation of celibacy by many marks of opprobium and scorn ; and I have frequently observed, that when a Hindoo, from question, or other causes, has been brought to the affirmation of
* This word, used in the Sanscrit language, is often termed Callian, which fignifies pleasure. The Hindoos, in common usage, have but one wife, and when this rule is deviated from, it is considered a species of indecency. There is a set, though not numerous, of mendicants, called Joguees, or Byraghces, who live in a state of celibacy.
his single state, he has appeared disconcerted and ashamed, and immediately attributed his folitary condition to ill fortune, or some domestic inconveniency. It is to this institution, which is strongly recommended, and, I may fay, even enforced, that the generally extensive population of Hindostan, and its speedy recovery from the calamities of war and famine, may be largely ascribed. The entire system of domestic ordinance and economy of the Hindoos, is founded on a firm, yet, simple basis ; from which arise effects, happy in themselves, and powerfully operative in uniting the bonds of society. By the ancient laws of the country, the wife depends for the enjoyment of every pleasure, as well as for most of the ordinary accommodations of life, on the immediate existence of her husband; and it becomes her invariable interest to preserve his health, as much of her happiness is centered in his living to an old age. On the demise of the husband, the wife virtually devolves into a caput mortuum ; she is not permitted to marry again, she is deprived of all consequence in the family, and divested of the marks of ornament and distinction. There are certain religious ceremonies not lawful for her to perform, and in some instances, she is held unclean ; but on all occasions, after the husband's death, the widow is classed in the house as a slave or a menial servant. But this usage has not so generally prevailed in latter times. The wives of the deceased Hindoos have moderated that spirit of enthusiastic pride, or impulse of affection, which was used to urge them to felf-destruction on the pile of their husbands. Voi. I.
Their grief can now be assuaged, and their religious duties reconciled, by a participation of domestic comforts ; and many of the Hindoo widows, especially in the Marhattah country, have acquired by their ability, their wealth, connection, or intrigue, the possession of extensive power and influence. Amongst the superior tribes of the Hindoos, where the sense of honor or shame, is more delicately preserved, rather than suffer a degradation, by which female attractions are extinguished, and the pride and spirit of the sex depressed, the women are impelled by a furious courage, softened by the term of matrimonial affection, to terminate the misery of their condition in death. According to a passage of the Shafter of the Hindoos, which I examined by the help of an interpreter, it is fpecifically ordained, that a wife ought to burn herfelf at her husband's death ; should she not possess the resolution of sustaining this trial, she is directed to make a pilgrimage to some of the sacred places of Hindoo ablution, as Benares, Allahabad, Ghyah, &c. and there, appropriating her property to charitable uses, offer up a sacrifice of her hair to the memory of her husband. She is not to decorate her person with jewels, with gold, silver, or any female ornament: she is not to use perfumes, nor eat flesh, fish, or butter but to live on plain barley or wheaten bread, and eat but once in a day. Her time is to be employed in the constant worship of God, and the purification of her mind, from anger, malice, and avarice ; and she is to withdraw herself from all the concerns of the world. If her life is passed in these acts she is promised after death to enter
heaven, without suffering intermediate purgation. In addition to the dread of fo degraded a state of'mortification, the widow on the other side is told by the Bramins, that the performance of the act of self-destruction will entitle her to an ample participation of exquisite future joys, and will ensure to her progeny the pre-eminent favor of the Deity. Though the issue of such a resolution forcibly affects those feelings of humanity. cherished amongst European nations, yet as the usage appears to originate in a cause tending to strengthen domestic policy, it ought not to be hastily condemned, or imputed altogether to the dictates of cruelty or injustice.
Conformably to the state of subordination in which Hindoo women are placed, it has been judged expedient to debar them the use of letters. The Hindoos hold the invariable language, that acquired accomplishments are not necessary to the domestic classes of the female sex, whether for contributing to her individual happiness, or preserving the decorum of character, and fimplicity of manners, which alone render her useful or amiable, in the estimation of her family. They urge that a knowledge of literature would conduce to draw a woman from her household cares, and give a disrelish to those offices, in which consist the only satisfaction and amusement that she can, with propriety, and an observance of rectitude, partake of; and such is the force of custom, that a Hindoo woman would incur a severe reproach, were it known that the could read or write. The Hindoo dancing girls, whose occupations are avowedly devoted to the public pleasure, are, on the contrary H 2