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with all the success which can be desired for it, and which it so eminently and manifestly deserves. It must not be imagined that the Brahmans have legally possessed the means of dragging the devoted victim to the pile, by any other chains than those of superstition. Although the Shasters recommend, and contain regulations for the practise of the rite, the sacred ordinances not only do not expressly, as some have supposed, enjoin it, but distinctly point out in what manner a woman, after the decease of her husband, shall be taken care of; and leave it optional with her, either to burn herself, or live a future life of chastity and respectability. If, they say, after marriage her (the woman's) husband shall die, her husband's relations; or, in default thereof, her father's ; or, if there be none of either, the magistrate, shall take care of her: and, in every stage of life, if the person who has been allotted to take care of a woman do not take care of her, each in his respective stage, the magistrate shall fine them. The ordinance, nevertheless adds, that it is proper for a woman to burn herself with the corpse of her husband; in which case she will live with him in paradise three crore and fifty lacks, or thirty-five millions of years. If she cannot burn she must observe an inviolable chastity. If she remain always chaste she will go to paradise; if not, she will go to hell. A woman usually declares her determination to become suttee during the dying moments of her husband: having once declared it, she is seldom induced to alter it. She may, however, do so if she pleases, as it is stated, “if the woman, regretting life, recede from the pile, she is defiled; but may be purified by observing the fast called Präjäpatya. This fast, according to Mr. Colebrooke, extends to twelve days. The first three she may take a spare meal; the next three, one on each night; the succeeding three days nothing may be eaten, but what is given unsolicited; and the last three days are a rigid fast. There are various disqualifications against the performance of suttee, such as a woman being pregnant, having an infant child, &c. &c. The main crime of the Brahmans then has been the fabrication, from these flimsy materials, of the soul-enfeebling chain of superstition, and decking

it with flowers of heavenly promise. Although some ladies might, for so long a period, be better satisfied with other company than that expressly promised, immediate beatitude, an almost immortal life in heavens of ineffable delight, and other enjoyments whose gross sensualities are concealed by the dazzling brilliancy of oriental colouring, are among the irresistible charms which are held forth to enthral the mind, and lead the victim of marital selfishness, too often, to become a Suttee. In short, we are told that the gods themselves reverence and obey the mandates of a woman who becomes one. There is, besides these, another powerful motive which operates in conjunction with them. Among the Hindus a woman, after the decease of her husband, loses entirely her consequence in his family, and is degraded to a situation little above that of a menial. She is told that if she become a Suttee, she will not only escape from that life of assured debasement and contempt, but will ascend to a state as pre-eminently exalted; and will thus (whatever the crimes of the parties may have been) save both her own soul, and the souls of her husband and her husband's family from purgatory and future transmigration. If, then, it be considered that by her immolation she imagines that she emancipates herself from present misery, and obtains exemption from that attendant upon future births in the shape of animals of all descriptions, and that she moreover raises her family in the estimation of society, we shall the less wonder that, in briefly exchanging such positive evil for so much of promised and expected good (and that exchange, too, commonly countenanced and apparently reverenced by all that she holds most dear and sacred), the shrinking timidity of her sex should be overcome, and every domestic, every social, and every tender bond should be burst asunder, with sometimes an heroic fortitude and firmness, which excite, and blend into one overwhelming feeling of horror, our indignation, our pity, and our admiration. Whatever may have been the origin of female immolation and infanticide in the east, pride and avarice are the unquestionably existing causes, operating by the means which I have just described. And to the same fount alone, we should blush to say, may be traced the sources of female immolation (for such in fact it is) in the west. Pride and avarice have been the shrines at which the lives of the one on the funeral pile or in the bowl of milk, and the minds of the other in the gloomy recesses of the conventual cell, have been alike sacrificed and destroyed. Courage and a disregard of life, in whatever manner the mind of the sufferer may have been worked upon, or whatever opiates may have been administered to lull the faculties, and deaden the apprehensions of “that

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bourne from which no traveller returns,” are not, however, always displayed; for it is too true, that sometimes the miserable victim is led forth, decked in her gayest paraphernalia, for the melancholy pageant, feeble, trembling, half intoxicated with drugs, dreading to go on, yet sufficiently conscious that it is too late and in vain to attempt to recede. It is meritorious to die in sight of the sacred stream of the Ganges, or any other of the holy rivers in India, as it is imagined that the dying person will thus obtain salvation. If, however, the party be a man, and his wife intend to burn herself, the aid of these hallowed waters is not necessary, as his salvation is rendered certain by the performance of suttee by his wife. If a husband should be at a distance, a woman may take any article of his dress in her possession, and binding it round her, may burn herself on a separate pile. In justice, however, to the Hindus, it must be acknowledged, that sometimes the better feelings of human nature prevail over the baser passions and the abominations of superstition, and every solicitation is adopted by the relatives and members of the family, with various success, to prevent the widow's immolation taking place. An instance of which the following pathetic relation from Holwell's Historical Events will shew, as will a subsequent one a practice of a contrary description. “At five of the clock in the morning died Raam Chund Pundit, of the Maharatta tribe, aged twenty-eight years. His widow (for he had left one wife, aged between seventeen and eighteen) as soon as he expired, disdaining to waste the time allowed for reflection,” immediately declared * Twenty-four hours after the decease of the husband are allowed by the Brahmans for the widows to determine. If, says Holwell, the first wife should not, in that time, express her intentions to burn, the right to do so devolves upon the second, and, if both are disinclined, upon the

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to the Brahmans and witnesses present her resolution to burn. As the family was of no small consideration, all the merchants of Cossimbazar, and her relations, left no arguments unessayed to dissuade her from it. Lady Russel, with the tenderest humanity, sent her several messages to the same purpose. The infant state of her children (two girls and a boy, the eldest not four years of age), and the terrors and pain of the death she sought, were painted to her in the strongest and most lively colouring: she was deaf to all. She gratefully thanked Lady Russel, and sent her word she had now nothing to live for, but recommended her children to her protection. When the torments of burning were urged in terrorem to her, she, with a resolved and calm countenance, put her finger into the fire, and held it there a considerable time: she then with one hand put fire into the palm of the other, sprinkled incense upon it and fumigated the Brahmans. The consideration of her children left destitute of a parent was again urged to her. She replied, “he that made them would take care of them.” She was at last given to understand she should not be permitted to burn. This for a short space seemed to give her deep affliction; but soon recollecting herself, she told them death was in her power, and that if she was not allowed to burn according to the principles of her caste, she would starve herself. Her friends, finding her thus peremptory and resolved, were obliged at last to assent. “The body of the deceased was carried down to the water side early the following morning: the widow followed about ten o'clock, accompanied by three very principal Brahmans, her children, parents, and relations, and a numerous concourse of people. The order of leave for her burning did not arrive from Hosseyn Khan, Fouzdar of Moorshedabad, until after one, and it was then brought by one of the Soubah's own officers, who had orders to see that she burnt voluntarily. The time they waited for the order was employed in praying with the Brahmans and washing in the Ganges. As soon as it arrived she retired, and stayed for the space of half an hour in the midst of her female relations, amongst whom was her mother. She then divested herself of her bracelets and other ornaments, and tyed them in a cloth which hung like an apron before her, and was conducted by her female relations to one corner of the pile. On the pile was an arched arbour, formed of dry sticks, boughs, and leaves, open only at one end to admit her entrance: in this the body of the deceased was deposited, his head at the end opposite to the opening. At the corner of the pile to which she had been conducted, the Brahman had made a small fire, round which she and the three Brahmans sat for some minutes. One of them gave into her hands a leaf of the bali tree (the wood commonly consecrated to form part of the funeral pile) with sundry things on it, which she threw into the fire: one of the others gave her a second leaf, which she held over the flame, whilst he dropped three times some ghee (clarified butter) upon it, which melted and fell into the fire (these two operations were preparatory symbols of her approaching dissolution by fire); and whilst they were performing this, the third Brahman read to her, and asked her some questions, to which she answered with a steady and serene countenance; but the noise was so great we could not understand what she said, although we were within a yard of her. These over, she was led with great solemnity three times round the pile, the Brahmans reading before her. When she came the third time to the small fire she stopped, took the rings off her toes and fingers and put them to her other ornaments. Here she took a solemn majestic leave of her children, parents, and relations: after which one of the Brahmans dipped a large wick of cotton in some ghee, and gave it ready lighted into her hand, and led her to the open side of the arbour. There all the Brahmans fell at her feet. After she had blessed them they retired weeping. By two steps she ascended the pile and entered the arbour. On her entrance she made a profound reverence at the feet of the deceased, and advanced and seated herself by his head. She looked in silent meditation on his face for the space of a minute, then set fire to the arbour in three places. Observing that she had set fire to leeward, and that the flames blew from her, instantly seeing her error, she rose, and set fire to windward, and resumed her station. Ensign Daniel, with his cane, separated the grass and leaves on the windward side, by which means we had a distinct view of her as she sat. With what dignity and undaunted a countenance she set fire to the pile the last time and assumed her seat, can

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