« ПредишнаНапред »
Now, that which was done in Bombay, may be done at Calcutta. Some of the Brahmins themselves have pointed out in what manner the female sacrifice may be considerably diminished, and gradually abolished. And as an inducement for our exertions, they have shewed us that the inhuman rite, as it is now commonly practised, is not sanctioned by their sacred books*.
Is there not, then, some ground for the interference of the Legislature? The first step toward accomplishing the humane object would be, to direct that the Bengal Government should report whether it may not be practicable to diminish the number of the female sacrifices annually made within their provinces. We are confident, that the Bengal Government will never assert that it is impracticable to diminish the number. The native inhabitants of Bengal are as accessible to reason and affectionate remonstrance, as the inhabitants of Guzerat. 66 By discussing the subject. frequently," says Colonel Walker, "in the public "Cutchery, and exposing the enormity of the
practice, as contrary to the precepts of religion "and the dictates of nature, every Cast came at
length to express an abhorrence of Infanti
* See "Memoir" before quoted,
"cide; and the obstinate principles of the Jare"jahs began to be shaken.'
What then, we would ask, is to prevent the officers of Government, who administer justice to the more civilized inhabitants of Bengal, from discussing with them the practice of burning women alive, and endeavouring to convince them that it is contrary to the precepts of religion and the dic"tates of nature?"
It is well known, that several instances have occurred, where the lives of females have been saved by the affectionate remonstrance and interference of individuals. But the English Government preserves a profound silence on the subject. And it is to be feared, that this silence is construed, by the ignorant and superstitious people, into a moral indifference about the act.
It has been alleged, that this practice will be gradually abolished by the Hindoos themselves, under the influence of English civilization. This would no doubt be the case, if the English Nation would be at pains to civilize the Hindoos. But we have the evidence of the fact to prove, that the existence of the English in Hindostan has had little influence in diminishing the frequency of the female sacrifice. That small portion of the native
people, indeed, who are brought up in towns where the English are resident, have lost many of their prejudices, (example, even without precept, having some influence); but the mass of the popu lation remains as it was.
. In Colonel Dow's History of Hindostan, written forty years ago, there is the following sentence: "All religions must be tolerated in Bengal, except in the practice of some inhuman customs, " which the Mahometans already have, in a great measure, destroyed. We must not permit young "widows, in their virtuous enthusiasm, to throw "themselves on the funeral pile with their dead "husbands; or the sick and aged to be drowned, "when their friends despair of their lives." Vol. iii. p. 128.
How many thousands of our subjects in Bengal have perished in the flames, and in the river, since the period when the above sentence was written! How many thousand lives would have been preserved, had the voice of this writer been attended to by the nation! But what is the fact? The moral state of the country, so far as relates to the "burning of women, and drowning of the aged," remains at the same point of civilization, where it was when the Mahomedans left it; and there it is likely to remain for ages to come, if the prayer
of the widow, and of "him that is ready to perish," do not now reach the ear of the British Parliament. We say the " prayer of the widow;" for it ought to be understood in England, that the burning of the widow is not always her own act. It is more properly the act of the Brahmin. No woman would go to the pile, unless the act was consecrated by the Brahmin,-by his presence, and by his prayers. It is not true that the woman always goes to the pile voluntarily. By no means. She sometimes runs away in terror; and towns are actually prepared for the residence of those unfortunate persons, who, by running away, disgrace themselves and family, and lose their casts*. And it is well known, that sometimes the victim is held forcibly, that she may not bring dishonour on her house. No man will believe, that a young person of twelve or fourteen years will always go willingly to the flaming pile. No! The act is, in many instances, murder; murder in the proper sense of that term; murder deliberately perpetrated t. The Mahometans would never allow
Nuddeah on the Ganges, and others.
+ " They shed INNOCENT blood: even the blood of "their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed "unto the IDOLS of Canaan; and the land was POLLUTED "with blood." Psalm cvi. 38.
any woman among their subjects to be burned, without the official permission of Government; and it was the business of the proper officer to ascer tain that the act was voluntary on her part, and that no means had been used to persuade her; which the Brahminical books themselves do not allow. But the English Government make no inquiry on the subject; and the reason why they do not, is a very remarkable one. It is, "lest, by "such inquiry and interference, Government "should seem in any manner to sanction 'the "practice." Thus, by a kind of fiction of morality, is perpetuated this most immoral custom.
No man will deny, that the blood of the daughters of India which is prematurely shed, is INNOCENT blood; and that they are sacrificed to the IDOLS of the land for the priests of the idol attend, the name of the idol is invoked, and the life which is extinguished is a gift to the idol. Nor will it be denied by any Christian, that the land is "POL"LUTED with blood," particularly the land of Bengal.
And yet, in the plenitude of commercial prosperity, and of that moral torpor which it too often inflicts, men are capable of saying, " India enjoys the perfection of British "administration."
The Israelites (not the Canaanites) are accused in the above quotation from Holy Scripture; and, in the following verses, it is said that God" abhorred his own inheritance" for such enormities, and, as a punishment, "gave them into "the hands of the heathen,"-those very heathen at whose crimes they connived.