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of the grossest idolatry, in which sufferings of their fellow-creatures the Supreme Being is represented in their most affecting forms.--Nei. onder a variety of the most shocke ther will it excite the wonder of ing and most odious forms, must of those who have observed the ordiitself tend to vitiate the morals of nary progress of idolatrous superstievery people among whom it pre- tions, to hear that the most savage vails; while they who believe the cruelties are sanctioned by their reBible to he the word of God, need ligious system, under ihe notion of not be told how offensive such prac. penance, by which the Divine favour tices are to the Supreme Being, or is conciliated, and the guilt of sin how they cause the Almighty to is done away. Neither will they be withdraw his preventing grace from unprepared to hear that an utter the idolatrous nation, and leave it want of natural affection is 100 “to be given over to a reprobate often displayed, and that at one mind." They will consequently be time, parents, at another, children, prepared to hear, that any people become the victims of these barbaaniong whom such a monstrous sys- rous systems of superstition. tem of idolatry has so long prevailed It must be unnecessary to descant would gradually sink into the lowest on the social and personal condition depths of licentiousness, wickedness, of a people whose religious and civil and cruelty. Remembering, there. instiiutions are such as have been fore, the explanation given in the here described. But I ought not to word of God of the horrible enor- omit the mention of the general conmities of the Gentile nations*, they dition of the whole female serwill read without astonishment the who constitute in every country, borrible account given by Dr. Pu- one half of the population, and on chanan of the grossly obscene, and the situation of whom its general sbockingly bloody superstitions, character will so greatly depend. openly exhibited amidst the accla. The condition of the female part malioos of hundreds of thousands of of the native population of India is Hindoo worshippers from all parts more particularly wretched; at best, of India, at the great annual festival they are degraded into mere instrubefore alluded to, at the temple of ments of animal gratification; and Juggernaut: they will not wonder the number of those who annually at the shouts of joy that were raised are compelled or seduced into conto the god (a gigantic idol placed senting to be burnt alive on the on a stupendous car 60 feet in height, death of their husbands (husbands and drawn along by six cables, pre- to whom when alive they most proceded by elephants ricbly capari- bably felt little or no attachment) soned, with all that could add splen- is vastly greater than has ever been dour to the procession), when a conceived by the generality of the wretched victim offered bimself a Europeans who have resided in Involantary sacrifice, and throwing dia. · A Hindoo of education stated himself on the road before the tower, it as his conjecture, that in the Bengal the multitude leaving a space clear provinces alone, the victims thus anfor his passage, he was crushed to mually burnt amounted to 15,000. death by the wheels. They will This we know, that by an actual acnot be surprised to read of the thou- count which was taken of the women sands of courtezans maintained for sacrificed within thirty miles round the service of the temple; and as Calcutta in 1803, the number was Jasciviousness and cruelty are close- 275; and the same detailed account ly consbined, they will not wonder having been kept within the same at the utter unconcern with wbich district of thirty miles, with a state, these idolatrous votaries witness the ment of the place where each sacri
fice occurred, during the first six See Romans, chap. 1.
months of 1804, the whole number of burnings proved to be consider- native Indian population. Such is ably above 116*.
the depraved condition--such the But to return to the general situa- deplorable and miserable state of tion of the female sex.
" The wo- the inhabitants of an immense men,” says a most intelligent and region, which providence has inexcellent man, long resident in India, trusted to our care. Must not then
are truly an unfortunate part of every humane mind feel for them the community, and greatly to be the strongest emotions of pity, and pitied. Receiving no education; dis- the most earnest longings to amend, posed of in marriage without their if possible, their wretched slate? own consent, or knowing any thing Must not every Christian mind be. of the person to whom they are to convinced that it has no option ; but be given, they are immured for that, if it possesses the power of milife, and niade mere servants in the tigating these evils, it is bound by family of their despotic lord. if the most powerful obligations of barren, or bearing only daughters, duty to exert it? Thanks be to God! they are neglected; and not always we are justified by the decided judgreleased from oppression even when ment of several of those, who are acdeath removes the husband; for they knowledged by all mankind to be the are then frequently reduced to the best informed and most experienced alternative of sinking into a state of in all East Indian concerns, who infamy, or of burning themselves have been long resident in the counwith his dead body."
try, and have administered its af. They have no concern in the edu- fairs, in conceiving that we need not. cation of their children after infancy. be deterred by any considerations of The Hindoo code imputes to them temporal interest, from obeying the the most depraved, impure, unsafe dictates of duty aud the impulse of nature.
feeling. This persuasion more espeOn the whole then, especially cially has been declared to the world when we take into account how much by a great and good man (Lord the personal qualities and general Teignmouth), who, after serving the character of every people are formed Company for above five and twenty by the female part of the community, years, in various subordinate offices it cannot surprise us, that, living for and after having been associated for ages under such a religious, political, the last three or four of them with legal, and social system as has been Lord Cornwallis in the Supreme described, the inhabitants of Hindos- Council, when some changes of ex-. tan should be such as they have trenie importance were to be made been represented by one who had in the East-India Company's system, long lived among them, “ A people. was, without recommendation or invoid of public spirit, honour, attach- terest, selected, solely on the ground. ment, and (speaking of them as a so
of his high integrity, tried abilities, ciety) base, dishonest, and faithless." and perfect acquaintance with Eust
I have thus given you a general, India affairs, io fill the bigh office though a slight and hasty sketch of of Governor-General of Bengal. A the character and situation of the few years ago he published to the
world his sentiments on this subject, The total number of these poor creafures thus annually sacrificed in Hindostan,
and distinctly declared his clear and often the mothers of families taken from the strong persuasion, that it was not midst of their children, (children, remember, only practicable bui expedient, on who have just lost their father also) cannot grounds of political interest, as well be certainly known. It lias been calculated
as just and right on the principles by a very intelligent person long resident in of religion and humanity. 10 com-, India, and intimately conversant with Indian municate, prudently and discreetly, affairs, at between thirty and forty thousand to the natives of India, the knowin the whole of Hindostan.
ledge of Christianity; and thereby,
through the Divine blessing, to im- would, doubtless, excite the strongest prove their wretched state in this possible feelings of horror, and stiworld, as well as to open to their mulate our efforts to substilute a view the prospect of eternal happi- purer and more benign system in ness. Shall Lord T.'s judgment of the place of this compound of cruelty East-India affairs, so highly and uni- and crime. But surely, to the eye versally respected in every other of reason, the distance of that part particular, be called in question in of our dominions in which this viibis instance only?
cious system prevails, makes no real With so high a testimony in our difference. It is equally a portion favour, it must be needless to call in of our empire, subject to our rule, other authorities; otherwise we might and contributing largely to our prosconfirm Lord Teignmouth's judg- perity. ment by the opinions of several other If these various circumstances gentlemen, whose intimate and eho- which have been stated are attenrough acquaintance with East-In- tively and seriously weighed, they dian interests is universally acknow- will exhibit a most extraordinary ledged.
phenomenon ;-the most enlightenUnhappily, however, partly from ed, improved, and (may we not fairly the general ignorance in this coun- say) the most religious nation upon try of the real condition of the East- earth, standing for many years in Indian population ; partly from our the closest of all social relations to not having been in the habit of con- a people bowed down under a dark sidering the natives of Hindostan as and degrading system of idolatry; our fellow-subjects, or rather, it must as well as under the nost debasing be repeated, as our tenants, and yoke of political and personal bonconseqnently from not adverting to dage. Might it not be very natutheir peculiar claims to our fostering rally supposed, by those who acand protecting care; partly, also, knowledge the hand of a superinfrom the immense distance at which tending Providence in the varying those countries are removed from fortunes of nations, that it had been us, as well as from their never fall- the design of Heaven, in bringing ing under our personal view; above those vast countries under the domiall, perhaps, froin ibat indifference nion of a nation enjoying the purest to the idolatrous and cruel rites of of all systems of religion, that their the native superstitions, which is benighted and depraved inhabitants produced but too naturally, by wit- might thus receive the light of Chrisnessing them for many years, with tian truth, and the blessings of a scarcely one, perhaps, during that sound morality? long period, engaging, or having They, however, who might hethe opportunity of engaging in Chris- sitate to accede to this proposition, tian worship; the public conscience, would readily acknowledge, that it if I may so term it, of this country, is at least our duty to endeavour in has never been awakened and rouzed every way to promote the temporal to the consideration of this subject. well-being and happiness of our OriDoubtless if the same superstitions, ental fellow-subjects. And it is to or the same barbarous and licentious be hoped that the temporal benefits rites, which are now exhibited on for which this quarter of the globe the banks of the Ganges, or at the is indebted to the religion of Christ, temple at Juggernaut, were to be are so generally acknowledged, that practised on the banks of the Thames, it will not be denied even by scepor even in the remotest part of the tics themselves. Sceptics have often British islands, they could not long acknowledged that the social and be kept secret; they could not be domestic comfort, as well as the denied or explained away; they moral improvement of any nation, can by no other means be so effec- (it must be added) their own extratually advanced, as by the general ordinary qualifications and merits. reception of Christianity.
The East-India Company's charNevertheless, though the duty of ter is now about to be again reenlightening the natives was not for- newed; and it therefore now begotten by the Portuguese when they comes the duty of the legislature to possessed a considerable territory in attend to the religious interests, as India; nor even by the Dutch in well as the social and domestic hapthe island of Ceylon; scarcely any piness of the natives. But let it be attempts to this end have been his seriously considered, is becomes no less therto made by our own country- the duty of the constituent body to men, though now for above fifty testify to the legislature, the deep inyears their possessions in India have terest with which it feels on this great been so immensely great.
question. Let it not be said, that, For above a century past, long however it may be a national conindeed before we possessed any ter- cern, no particular class of indiviritory in India, two or three mis- duals can plead any distinct interest sionaries, chiefly Danes or Germans, in it. Surely the nation is made up have been maintained in the south of individuals, and every single inof India by the Society for promot- dividual has, or ought to hare, an ing Christian Knowledge; and if interest, and a deep interest too, not there were room for the discussion, only in the national welfare, but in it would be a delightful office to state that which is inseparably connected the excellent character of some of with its welfare,—the national virtue these good men, and what is still and honour on the one hand, the more to my present purpose, the national guilt and shame on the high respect in which they were other. What particular or personal universally held among all ranks of interest had the greater part of the the natives.—But this, it is obvious, people of Great Britain in the diswas but a drop in the ocean. continuance of the slave trade? Yet
When the East-India Company's we know that on no subject were the charter was last renewed in 1793, petitions to the two houses of parliathose vast regions were given into ment ever more numerous or more the hands of the Board of Controul forcible. On no occasion did the and the Directors of the East India public voice speak more loudly, and Company; and though other inte- powerfully; on none, perhaps, with rests were attended to, those of reli. happier etfects. I can scarcely doubt gion were forgotten by the legisla- that every considerate and well inture! and the few missionaries whose formed Christian will grant, that zeal has prompted them within these now, when, blessed be God, the slave few years, unwarranted by law, and trade is abolished, our studiously in spite of every discouragement, to barring out the light of Divine Truth, labour in the East-Indian field, not or, without saying a word, our sufbeing permitted to go out in the fering it, with all its attendant beships of this country, or with the nefits, to be barred out from the consent of those who had the super immense continent of India; our intendance of East - India affairs, not eagerly endeavouring to promote have been obliged to find their way the communication to that bitherto to India by difficult and circuitous ill-fated country, of the blessings of channels; and were liable at any Christianity, would be by far the moment to be sent out of the coun- greatest of our national crimes; and try-a fate which probably they surely in such circumstances as those would have experienced, but for in which this country is now placed, the yenerous and liberal minds of with the prospect around us already the Governors General of India, and so gloomy and tempestuous, yet still
continuing to gather fresh black- fice of Children at Saugor and other ness, every one who is not convinced Places,” passed by the Governorthat the Bible is a forgery, will be General in Council on the 20th of anxious to use that measure of in- August, 1802. '. The purpose of this fluence, whether greater or smaller, regulation was completely effected. for which he will be responsible at Not a murmur was heard on the subthe day of judgment, in delivering ject: nor 'has any attempt of the his country from this heavy load of kind come to the knowledge of the guilt and inbumanity.
public since. It is impossible to Though I have been drawn into calculate the number of human lives greater Fength than I intended, I am that have been saved, during the conscious, that, fearful of prolixity, I last eight years, by this humane have given you a very superficial law. Yet had the Noble Lord posand scanty statement of this exten- sessed a less sagacious understandsive and copious subject. For the ing, or a less humane and indepenmost part I have abstained from par- dent mind, the apprehensions, urged ticolars; but there are two recent oc- by too many, of opposing the sucurrences, with the more pleasing perstitious practices of the natives, colours of which I am glad to it- would have prevented this merciful lieve the general darkness of the regulation. picture which I have had to lay be- The other instance is of still fore you :-ihe rather, because they greater magnitude and importance, will serve at once to answer objec- both in its own nature, and in the tions, and to encourage our hopes, conclusions to which it leads. by reflecting no small measure of For two thousand years at least, a light on the practicability of putting custom had existed in a particular an end, by just and prudent means, to "tribe, in a distant province in India, the abomination's of the East-Indian of murdering the female infants, system. In truth, the lessons which alleging that theirs was a warlike they teach are so important, that it tribe, that it was expensive to breed would be extreme injustice to my up daughters, difficult to marry argument, altogether to omit the them, and, in short, that it was a mention of them: they shall be much better plan for them to buy stated, however, briefly and gene- wives when they wanted them from rally.
other tribes, than to train them up The first is, the abolition of the themselves. To render the deed, if practice which prevailed among the possible, more horrible, the mothers Hindoos, of parents destroying their were commonly the executioners of own children. Lord Wellesley had their own offspring. The numbers been informed, that it had been a annually thus destroyed cannot be custom of the Hindoos to sacrifice ascertained with certainty; the children in consequence of vows, by lowest accounts state it to be above drowning them or exposing them to 3000; other accounts calculate it at sharks and crocodiles; and that 20 and even 30,000 annually. Our twenty-three persons had perished resident at Benares, Mr. Duncan, at Saugor in one month (January, and afterwards, with still more assi. 1801), many of whom were sacri- duous and preserving humanity, ficed in this manner. He immedi- Colonel Walker (for it is due to them ately instituted an inquiry into the to mention their names), having principle of this antient atrocity; ascertained the existence of this heard what natives and Europeaos practice, resolved if possible to had to say on the subject; and then effect the abolition of it. passed a law, “ declaring the prac- Colonel Walker (it is due to Mr. tice to be murder, puoishable by Duncan to state that he was now redeath."— The law is entitled, “A moved to the government of BomRegulation for preventing the Sacri- bay) was indefatigable in his enn Carist. Observ. No: 125.