capital of Bengal and Bahar ; and of fuch pasiages in the body of the the most authentic books, both an- code as inighe appear by their pe: cient and modern, (a list of which culiarity or repugnance to our senis given in the work) were col- timents, to lie most open to objec. lected, and the original text, de- tion. Amongst these, we could livered in the Hindoo language, have wilhed, as we hould be forry was faithbully translated into the to entertain, in any respect, a less Persian idiom. They began their favourable opinion of the author's work May 1773, and finished it by undertanding, than his great inthe end of February 1775

genuity seems to deserve, that he Such is the account given us of had not professed himself so serious the rise and execution of this curi- an advocate for the wild and extra. ous and interesting volume, from vagant chronology of the brawhich, to use the translator's words, mins. “ a precise idea may be formed of The Hindoos, he says, reckon the customs and manners of these the duration of the world by four people, which, to their great in joques or distinct ages. The it is jury, have been long misrepre-faid to have lafted 3,200,oco years, fented in the wellern world." and they hold, that the life of man From hence also materials may be was in that age extended to 100,009 collected towards the legal accom. years, and that his ftature was 31 plishment of a new fyítem of go. cubits, vernment in Bengal, wherein the lafted. Life of man. British laws may in some degree be 2d, 2,400,000

10,000 softened and tempered by a mo- 3d, 1,600,000 1,000 derate attention to the peculiar and 4th, 400,000

100 national prejudices of the Hindoo; Of this latt or present age 5000 some of whose institutes, however years are supposed to be paft. Comfanciful and unaccountable, may putation, as the author jusly ob. perhaps be preferable to any which serves, is loit, and conjecture overcould be fubiicuted in their room. whelmed in the attempt to adjust They are interwoven with the reli- such astonishing spaces of time to gion of the country, and are there. our own confined notions of the fore severed as of the highest au- world's epoch. And yet, extrava. thority: they are conditions by gant as this may appear, the tranwhich they hold their rank in lo- slator seems inclined to think that ciety: long usage has perfuaded it comes recommended to us with them of their equity, and they at lealt equal marks of authenticity will always gladly embrace the per- with any other history of the creamillion to obey them; to be obli- tion. We are afterwards told of ged to renounce their obedience one 'Mannoo, an author who flouwould probably be esteemed a- rithed early in the suttee jogue, or mongit them a real hardship." firit age, and of Jage Bulk whe

In the preliminary discourse, af- lived at the beginning of the tirtal, ter a few general and introductory or second age, whole works are obiervations upon the mythology fill extant, and from which a conof the Gentoos, the translator has siderable part of the present compigiven a short account of the Shan-lation has been made. It does not icrit language, and an explanation fall in with our design to attempo

to convince Mr. Halhed of the ex- We might transcribe the whole travagancy of these allertions. Had book, were we to attempt to give he given himself but a little time an account of all the peculiarities to reflect upon the absurdities of contained in this code of bramini. their geography (Vid. page civ.) cal jurisprudence. The laws, as with regard to which I apprehend might be imagined, are for the he would not be thought to enter- most part local and characteristic. tain any doubcs, it might have led They frequently bear strong marks him at least to have suspected ibat a of the remoteft antiquity, and seem people who could be so grossly ig. in many instances calculated for norant in things which lay perpecu- the crude conceptions of an almost ally before them, and which were illiterate people, upon their first palpable to their senses, might be civilization. We must therefore equally extravagant in a science, bec.ntent with laying before our the object of which is fleeting and readers, as a specimen of the ingetranfient.

nious translator's abilities, his obThe code is divided into twenty. fervations upon some of the most one chapters, the heads of which remarkable passages in tbe work. are as follows.

1. Lending and The rights of inheritance, in borrowing 2. The division of the second chapter, are laid down inheritable property.

3. Justice. with the utmost precision, and with 4. Trust or depolit. 5. Selling a the liri&teft attention to the natural Uranger's property. 6. Shares. claim of the inheritor in the seve7. Gift . 8. Servitude. 9. Wages. ral degrees of afinity. A man is

II. Purchase. 12. herein considered but as tenant for Boundaries. 13. Shares in the life in his own property; and, as cultivation of lands. 14. Cities all opportunity of diftributing his and towns. 15. Scandal. 16. Af- effects by will, after his death, is sault.“ 17. Theft. 18. Violence. precluded, hardly any mention is 19. Adultery. 20. Women. 21. made of such kind of bequel. By Sundry articles.

these ordinances also, he is hinder. Among it many other curious ed from difpofleffing his children particulars, the reader, no doubt, of his property in favour of aliens, will be astonished to meet with a and from making a blind and parprohibition of the use of fire-arms, tial allotment in behalf of a favouin records, which lay a claim to rite child, to the prejudice of the such unfathomable antiquity. ļi reft ; by which the weakness of fertainly gives some colour to the parental affection, or of a misconjectures of those commentators, guided mind in its dotage, is ad. who have supposed, from a well mirably remedied. These laws known passage in Quintus Curtius, also strongly elucidate the story of that Alexander absolutely met with the prodigal fon in the Scriptures, some weapons of that kind in In- fince it appears from hence io have dia : and the extraordinary accounts been an immemorial custom in the which are given of the Feu Gregeois east for fons to demand their porof the Crusades, will also gain tion of inheritance Quring their fome degree of probability from father's life-time, and that the pathe description given of the Indian rent, however aware of the diffiAgnee-Affer.

pated inclinations of his child, R 4


ļo. Rent,

could not legally refuse to comply been in the darkest ages of antiwith the application.

quity. Though polygamy has been ci We find a particular injunc. conftantly pradifed and universally tion and description of a certain allowed under all the religions that water ordeal among the first laws have obtained in Asia, we meet dictated to Moles by God himself; with very few instances of permit. it is contained in the fifth chapter ted polyandry, or a plurality of of Numbers, from the twelfth 10 husbands, such as mentioned in the the thirtieth verle, and is for the fourteenth section of this chapter : fatisfaction of jealous hofbands, ia but a genileman, who has lately the immedia e deiection, or ac. viited the kingdoms of Boutan quittal of their wives. and Thibet, has observed, that the " In the two fucceeding chapfame cullom is alıoit general to ters no unusual matter occurs, but this day in those countries; where fuch as good fence and a freedom one wife frequently terves all the from prejudice will easily develope: males of a whole family, without but, in the second section of the being the cause of any uncom- fixth chapter, a passage appears, mon jealousy or disunion among which, upon a slight examination, them.

might give the reader a very indif. The chapter of justice, in its ferent opinion of the Gentoo lys. general tendency, seems to be one

tem of government, viz. “ A law of the best in the whole code. The to regulate the shares of robbers." necessary qualifications for the ar- This ordinance by no means re. bitrator, the rules for the exami. spects the domestic difturbers of nation of witnefies, and the requi. the tranquillity of their own coun sites for propricry of evidence, are trymen, or violaters of the firk fated with as much accuracy and principles of society, but only fuch depth of judgment as the genera- bold and hardy adventurers as íaliy lity of those in our own courts. In for:h to levy contributions in a fothis chapter mention is made of the reign province. Unjaft as this bePurrekeh, or trial by ordeal, which haviour may appear in the eye of is one of the most ancient inftitntes equity, it bears the most genuine for the distinguishing criterion of stamp of antiquity, and corre. guilt and innocence that hath been sponds entirely with the manners handed down to us by sacred or of the early Grecians, at or before profane history: fire or water were the period of the Trojan war, and The usual relources upon these oc- of the western nations, before their cafions, and they were constantly einer fion from barbarism ; a prac. prepared and fanctified by the fo- tice ftill kept up among the piratic Jemnities of a religious ceremonial. ftates of Barbary to its fullest extent The modes of this ordeal are va- by fea, and probably among many rious in India, according to the herds of Tartars and Arabian banchoice of the parties or the nature ditti by land. However, the of the offence; but the infallibility known existence and originality of of the result is to this day as im- this favage system will justify the plicitly believed, as it could have Gentoo magistrate of those ancient

periods periods in assisting the freebooters selves with their deceased husbands: with his advice, and participating The terms of the injunclion as in their plunder, when, at that there set forth are plain, moderate, time, such expeditions were esteem- and conditional : " It is proper for ed both legal and honourable. a woman to burn with her hulband's

“ The many rules laid down in corps ;” and a proportionate rethe 20:h chapter, for the preserva- ward is offered in compensation for tion of domestic authority to the her sufferings. Notwithstanding the husband, are relics of that charac. ordinance is not in the absolute teristic discipline of Asia, which style of a command, it is surely fuf. sacred and profane writers teftify to ficiently direct to itand for a relihave existed from all antiquity; gious duty; the only proof that it where women have ever been the is not politive is the proposal of subjects, not the partners of their inviolable chattity as an alternalords, confined within the walls of tive, though it is not to be taken a haram, or busied without doors in for an equivalent. The bramins drudgeries little becoming their de- seem to look upon this sacrifice as licacy. The Trojan princesses were one of the first principles of their employed in washing linen ; and religion, the cause of which it Rebecca was firit discovered by would hardly be orthodox to inves-, Abraham's servant with a pitcher tigate. There are, however, feveupon her shoulder to water camels. ral restrictions with respect to it, as • Two women shall be grinding that a wonan must not burn herlelf at the mill,” says the prophet; if he is with child, nor if her hus. but the notoriety of this fact ob. band died as a dilance from her, viates the necetlity of quotations : unless the can procure his turban and it may just be observed, that Solo- girdle to put on at the pile, with mon, in praising a good wife, men- other exceptions of the same nature, tions, that " She rises while it is which they closely conceal from the yet night,” which we must suppose eyes of the world, among the other to be before her husband; and we mysteries of their faith : but we find this to be one of the qualifica- are convinced equally by informations for a good Gentoo wite also. tion and experience, that the caf

The latter part of this chapter tom has not for the most part fallen relates to the extraordinary circum- into disuetude in India, as a celeftance of women's burning them- brated writer has supposed."





« ElőzőTovább »