Графични страници
PDF файл


Women are led to death, who have committed no crime lives are lost to the state: Christianity is dishonoured and the mild and humane principles of English law, saving from personal wrongs and protecting human life, are exercised in that country in vain.

The legislative measures, as before observed, for arresting the progress of this destructive superstition, are simple and obvious. It is only necessary to direct, that the Indian Administration make an annual return of the number of Burnings in their Provinces; and report on the means that have been used for lessening their frequency. When the English Government in Hindostan find that the attention of the nation is directed to the object, it will be seen that means will soon be found to accomplish the end. Whatever be the number of sacrifices in the report of the first year, it will diffuse a lively satisfaction through the nation, to see that the number of these devoted females is reduced, the year following, and decreasing every successive year. The progress of civilization will thus be evident to the world; and all men will acknowledge, That Britain occupies India for the advantage of its inhabitants.

Revenue derived from Idolatry.

The fact, it is presumed, is notorious in the nation, That our Government in India derives a Tribute directly from the idolatrous worship of the Natives. The question to be discussed is, whether such a practice can be justified in a Christian nation. The principle has been admitted by the English in Hindostan, for many years; and it has been defended there and at home, on the ground of its being a customary source of revenue. with the native governments. It is certain, however, that many persons in this country entertain the most decided conviction, that the practice is not justifiable; and they look to the wisdom of the Legislature to give judgment on the subject.

At the Temple of Juggernaut (and at other places) the English Government levy a Tax on Pilgrims, as a source of Revenue; an English Officer is appointed to reside at the Temple of Juggernaut, to collect the Tax; and a sum is allotted towards defraying the expenses of the Idol. Now, it is well known, that the solemnities of this idol are sometimes polluted with human blood; and that the spirit of the idol's worship is obscenity; even the external sculptures of his temple marking this character. The offence,

therefore, to Christian minds is this, That money taken from the Idolaters for sufferance to engage in these horrid solemnities, should be brought immediately into the national treasury

In justice to the Court of Directors, as to the part which they have taken in this matter, we subjoin the following statement:

The first law enacted by the Bengal Government on this subject was entitled, "A Regulation for levying a Tax "from Pilgrims resorting to the Temple of Juggernaut, and "for the Superintendance and Management of the Temple --passed 3d April, 1806." This is the law which Marquis Wellesley did not approve; and he actually left the Government without giving his sanction to it. Mr. Udny, a Member of Council, also protested against it.-The second law was passed in Bengal, in April 1809, rescinding so much of the first as related to the "interior management and con"troul" of the temple; but sanctioning "the levying a «Tax from Pilgrims for admission to the Temple; allotting


a Sum towards the expenses of the Idol; and appointing " an Officer of Government to collect the Tax."-The Bengal Government had announced to the Court of Directors their intention of enacting this second law, before they passed it.

[ocr errors]

When the subject came under the notice of the Court of Directors in the year 1808, they thought it proper to propose a distinct statement of their opinions upon it to the Bengal Government; and they prepared a letter, in which they enjoined, That the Government should not elect the priests who were to superintend the affairs of the Temple, or exercise a controul over its ministers or officers, or take the management of its funds; and that the exercise of the au,

When the Jewish Sanhedrim received back the thirty pieces of silver from Judas, they said, "It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury,

thority of Government should extend only to objects falling directly within the province of the Magistrate; as the care of the police, the administration of justice, and the collection of such a tax, professedly for these ends, as should be required for the due attainment of them; not subjecting the Hindoos to any tax for access to their place of devotion, or under the notion of granting them a religious privilege, or of tolerating Idolatry, in consideration of money. The Court of Directors, however, were over-ruled in this proceeding by a superior authority, which thought it sufficient to acquiesce generally in what the Bengal Government had proposed should be done.

By the same superior authority, another dispatch was substituted, in which it was stated, That, as the Tax on Pilgrims resorting to Allahabad and Juggernaut was established during the Nawaub's and the Mahratta Government, there did not appear to be any objection to its continuance under the British Government.

This substituted dispatch went, as the law directs, in the name of the Court of Directors, although it was in opposition to their sentiments. But, before it arrived in Bengal, the Government there had passed, by their own authority, the Regulation of April 1809, being the second law above recited, and which we suppose now exists, sanctioning the levying of a Tax from pilgrims, for admission to the Temple; allotting a sum toward the expenses of the Idol; and appointing an Officer of Government to collect the Tax.

The Court of Directors will be able to inform the Legislature whether the Government in India have made, or intend to make, any further alteration in the law.

"because it is the price of blood." The Sanhedrim had not themselves been guilty of the deed; but they did not think it lawful, or decorous, that the price of blood (a sum given for another man's sin) should be brought into the national treasury. This is the light in which many will consider the Tribute levied on the Idol-worship. It cannot but be called "the price of idolatry," and of an idolatry, too, stained with blood; and they will not think it decorous to bring it immediately into the public treasury. The English Government is not itself guilty of idolatry: but, to receive money from the Natives for permission to worship the idol, and to apportion a certain sum for the expenses and decoration of the idol, is certainly to countenance, in some degree, the act of idolatry in others. In what degree need not be determined. No man will allege that it is to discountenance it.―This then is the offence to minds imbued by Christian principles. The transaction is not decorous in a Christian Government. It has "the appearance of evil."

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »