« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
principal temple, bestows Upadésa, or Chicranticum, on such as have not received these ceremonies, and distributes holy water, He then inquires into matters of contention, or transgressions against the rules of cast; and having settled, os punished these, hears his disciples and other learned men dispute on theological subjects. This is the grand field for acquiring reputation among the Brahmans. These disputations are said to be very similar to those which were common among the doctors of the Romish church seven or eight hundred years ago; and, in fact, a strong resemblance will be found between the present state of Hindu knowledge, and that which then prevailed in Europe.' I. 22, 23.
There is, perhaps, something too much of sarcasm in the spirit of the following general remarks; but the fact is curious, and deserves to be recorded.
• The circumstances which seem chiefly to add dignity to a cast are, its being restricted from the pleasures of the world, especially those of the table; the following no useful employment; and the being dedicated to what they call piety and learning. Almost every man endeavours, as much as possible, to assume at least the external appearance of these qualifications, and in the people of this country a hypocritical cant is a remarkable feature. Even young men of active professions, when talking on business, will frequently turn up their eyes to heaven, and make pious ejaculations, attended. with heavy sighs.' I. 254.
The perusal of these volumes is certainly well calculated to lower very much our popular conceptions of the ease and voluptuousness of an Indian climate, as well as of the boundless opulence and fplendour of their chieftains and princes. The common people are universally miserably poor, and in many places extremely filthy and flovenly-overrun with vermin, and consumed with itch. A great part of the country is infefted with robbers. The forests, which are in many districts completely obstructed by fallen trees, are extremely unhealthful; and the tygers, in other quarters, so numerous and so bold, as frequently to carry the inhabitants off out of their beds. The huts of the peasants are universally built with mud, without windows or chimnies. Even their palaces are frequently constructed of the same homely materials; and consiste for the most part, of apartments too close and low to be inhabited with any comfort by an European. The author's observations upon Seringapatnam, the famous residence of Tippu Sultan, and the anecdotes he has interspersed of this sovereign's character, are among the most curious and interesting parts of the publication.
• Seringapatam, as is well known, is situated at the upper end of an island surrounded by the Cávery, which is here a large and rapid river, with a very extensive channel, filled with rocks, and fragments of granite. On the south branch of the river a bridge has been erected, which serves also as an aqueduct, to convey from the
or columns. The interstices are filled up with oil colours, which are all of European preparation. The manner of making this false gilded paper is as follows. Take any quantity of lead, and beat it with a hammer into leaves, as thin as possible. To twenty-four parts of these leaves add three parts of English glue, dissolved in water, and beat them together with a hammer, till they be thoroughly united; which requires the labour of two persons for a whole day. The mass is then cut into small cakes, and dried in the shade. These cakes can at any time be dissolved in water, and spread thin with a hair brush on common writing paper. The paper must then be put on a smooth plank, and rubbed with a polished stone, till it acquire a complete metallic lustre. The edges of the paper are then pasted down on the board, and the metallic surface is rubbed with the palm of the hand, which is smeared with an oil called Gurna, and then exposed to the sun. On the two following days the same operation is repeated ; when the paper acquires a metallic yellow colour, which, however, more resembles the hue of brass, than that of gold.' I. p. 74, 75.
The following sketch of the Sultan's character, will fit almost all despotic sovereigns possessed of more than ordinary talents.
• The apartment most commonly used by Tippoo, was a large lofty hall, open in front after the Mussulman fashion, and on the other three sides, entirely shut up from ventilation. In this he was wont to sit, and write much ; for he was a wonderful projector, and was constantly forming new systems for the management of his dominions, which, however, he wanted perseverance to carry into execution. That he conceived himself to be acting for the good of his subjects, I have no doubt; and he certainly believed himself endowed with great qualities for the management of civil affairs, as he was at the pains of writing a book on the subject, for the instruction of all succeeding princes. His talents in this line, however, were certainly very deficient. He paid no attention to the religious prejudices of the greater part of his subjects ; but every where wantonly destroyed their temples, and gloried in having forced many thousands of them to adopt the Mussulman faith. He never con. tinued long on the same plan ; so that his government was a constant succession of new arrangements. Although his aversion to Europeans did not prevent him from imitating many of their arts ; yet this does not appear to have proceeded from his being sensible of their value, or from a desire to improve his country; it seems merely to have been done with a view of showing his subjects, that, if he chose, he was capable of doing whatever Europeans could perform : for although he made broad cloth, paper formed on wires like the European kind, watches, and cutlery, yet the processes for making the whole were kept secret. A French artist had prepared an engine, driven by water, for boring cannon ; but so little sensible was the Sultan of its value, that he ordered the water-wheel to be removed, and employed bullocks to work the machinery. One of
VOL. XIII. NO. 25.
stately. The forest is free from underwood or creepers ; but the whole ground is covered with long grass, often as high as a man's head. This makes walking rather disagreeable and dangerous, as one is always liable to stumble over rotten trunks, to rouse a tiger, or to tread on a snake. These latter are said to be found of great dimensions, and have been seen as thick as the body of a middlesized man. The length of this kind is not in proportion to the thickness, and does not exceed seven cubits. Although I passed a great part of these three days in the forest, I saw neither elephant, tiger, nor serpent, and escaped without any other injury than a fall over a rotten tree.' II. 122, 123.
In Malabar, there are more memorials of an antient intercourse with Europe than in any other part of India. A few years ago, an earthen pot, filled with Roman coins of Augustus and Tiberius, was dug up near Palachy; and the Malabar Christians (or Nazareens, as they are called) report, that they have been settled there for 1740 years. Their pope, or priest, Dr Buchanan says, was of a very fair complexion, with high Jewish features. His account of these venerable believers, however, is in every respect very meagre and unsatisfactory.
The intercourse of the sexes, throughout all those countries, is on the most extraordinary footing. We quote the following, as one out of an immense multitude of examples of the most absurd and unnatural institutions.
· The Nairs marry before they are ten years of age, in order that the girl may not be deflowered by the regular operations of nature ; but the husband never afterwards cohabits with his wife. Such a circumstance, indeed, would be considered as very indecent. He allows her oil, clothing, ornaments, and food ; but she lives in her mother's house, or, after her parents' death, with her brothers, and cohabits with any person that she chooses of an equal or higher rank than her own. If detected in bestowing her favours on any low man, she becomes an outcast. It is no kind of reflection on a woman's character to say, that she has formed the closest intimacy with many persons ; on the contrary, the Nair women are proud of reckoning among their favoured lovers many Brahmans, Rájás, or other persons of high birth. In consequence of this strange manner of propagating the species, no Nair knows his father ; and every man looks upon his sisters' children as his heirs. A man's mother manages his family; and after her death his eldest sister assumes the direction. Brothers almost always live under the same roof; but, if one of the family separates from the rest, he is always accompanied by his favourite sister. Even cousins, to the most remote degree of kindred, in the female line, generally live together in great harmony; for, in this part of the country, love, jealousy, or disgust, never can disturb the peace of a Nair family.' II. 411, 4.12. G2