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better class who have not associated with good company, the wife, on the slightest fault, or even on bare suspicion of her misconduct, is chastised as a thief. Respect to virtue and their reputation generally makes them forgive even this treatment. If, unable to bear such cruel usage, a wife leaves her husband's house to live sepårately from him, then the influence of the husband with the magisterial authority is generally sufficient to place her again in his hands ; when, in revenge for her quitting him, he seizes every pretext to torment her in various ways, and sometimes even puts her privately to death. These are facts occurring every day, and not to be denied. What I lament is, that, seeing the women thus dependent and exposed to every misery, you feel for them no compassion, that might exempt them from being tied down and burnt to death”. Transl. pp. 253–255.
This horrid practice he speaks of repeatedly as murder, whenever any force was employed ; and all engaged in it as then guilty of murder. It is easy to see what malignant hatred such expressions were likely to excite.
In the Brief Remarks regarding Modern Encroachments on the Ancient Rights of Females, according to the Hindoo Law of Inheritance, 1822, subjoined to the Translations, Rammohun Roy delineates (p. 270), “ the interest and care which their ancient Legislators took in the promotion of the comfort of the female part of the community", and shows the extreme evils that the Hindoo women incurred by the changes which afterwards took place in the law of inheritance. In the course of this statement he says (pp. 274, 275), “It is not from religious prejudices and early impressions only, that Hindoo widows burn themselves on the piles of their deceased husbands, but also from their witnessing the distress in which widows of the same rank in life are involved, and the insults and slights to which they are daily subjected, that they become in a great measure regardless of existence after the
death of their husbands : and this indifference, accompanied with the hope of future reward held out to them, leads them to the horrible act of suicide. These restraints on female inheritance encourage, in a great degree, polygamy, a frequent source of the greatest misery in native families”. He then speaks of “Brahmuns of higher birth” as marrying “ ten, twenty, or thirty women"; and manifests great sorrow and mortification at the consequences arising from such polygamy. He elsewhere (p. 182), states the restraints which their ancient authorities had laid on this baneful custom; and the degree in which they were violated ; and then says, “the late Rajah of Tirhoot, through compassion towards that helpless sex, limited, I am told, within these thirty or forty years, the Brahmuns of that district to four wives only. This regulation, although falling short both of the written law and of that of reason, tends to alleviate in some measure the misery to which women were before exposed, as well as to diminish in some degree domestic strife and disturbance". It may fairly be presumed from the known views and character of the Hindoo Reformer that he had himself kept within what he deemed the limits of “ the written law and of reason”: and that from the period of his receiving the christian system of morality, he maintained the still stricter course which it prescribes on this subject.
In addition to the extracts from the Correspondence given in Appendix (C), the following may be interesting to the Reader, and assist in showing the course which benevolent wisdom points out for the moral and intellectual improvement of the Hindoos.
“ The general object should be, from amongst all classes and castes, to prepare and send forth into society, men of cultivated and independent minds, who, by their example, may infuse a spirit of inquiry and a love of knowledge into all around them; by their writings may communicate the in formation which they themselves have acquired ; and, by thus working on the great mass of the community, may pave the way, perhaps unintentionally, but in the most effectual manner, for the complete triumphs of true religion. A particular object that should never be lost sight of is, by these schools to form a body of able translators, who may transfuse into the language of the country, in genuine native idiom, the treasures of the English tongue in religion and morals, philosophy, science, and literature; and, as far as I can judge, success in this will augur better for the increase and diffusion of salutary and useful knowledge, than any thing else that has been hitherto attempted. It is to men thus qualified, whether in such schools or by other means, that we must ultimately look for all that will prove most effectual to. enlighten the Hindoos.
“ If such are the proper objects of these Missionary schools, then it follows that a few, or even only one, well disciplined and well taught, will produce more important effects than a greater number placed under less judicious regulations, or superintended by less able masters." Corresp. pp. 98, 99.
“I fully concur in the view which you express, respecting the kind and degree of religious instruction that should be communicated in these schools. There should neither be a timid avoidance of every thing Christian, nor a rash inculcation of all, and even more than all, that is peculiar to Christianity. On the contrary, there should be a faithful exhibition of those great principles of religion and morality, which the reason and conscience of man, even when most corrupt and darkened, will seldom refuse to acknowledge ;
accompanied with those confirmations which every professed Revelation more or less strongly supplies. The prejudices of the natives do not run so violently in this channel as bas been supposed ; for they will sometimes be found more willing to receive, than we are to give, instructions in the universally-acknowledged, the simple, and rational truths of religion." Corresp. pp. 100, 101. In p. 103, Mr. Adam
none of the female converts, at the period of their conversion could read; but this (he adds) was no reproach to them
; for even the wealthiest and the noblest females have hitherto (1823) been equally ignorant”.”
In order to convert the Hindoos to Christianity, this very judicious writer says (pp. 104, 105), “ instead of seeking to gain a few converts who, whatever may have been their rank or character, become almost useless to us, and are despised by their countrymen as soon as they pass into our hands, or assume a common denomination with ourselves, we must, to adopt the similitude of our Saviour, by the diffusion of sound knowledge and the excitement of a spirit of enlightened inquiry, put the mass into a state of fermentation, and join labour with patience until the whole be leavened. If, in the
every prudent and judicious means for this purpose, we trust for success to the progress of society and to the power of truth, our expectations will not be disappointed. At an earlier period and in greater numbers than we may have anticipated, honest, respectable, and enlightened men, in despite of all opposition, and in obedience to the voice of conscience, will assume, of their own accord, the Christian name, and, by their virtues, prove its brightest ornaments."
In pp. 37, 38 of the Correspondence, Mr. Adam bears his testimony to the services of the Baptist Missionaries in promoting the general enlightenment of the Hindoos. In addition to several periodical productions, he says “ They also
edit a Newspaper in the Bengallee language, which is probably the first of the kind, and which has called forth two or three others, conducted by natives. Those (he adds) who look beyond the present time, will be able to estimate the importance of this last-mentioned fact, and consequently the value of the first example that was set.” See also the foregoing Appendix, p. 61 ; and the statements in “ British India”, vol. ii. p. 359, forming a portion of that very able and interesting series entitled The Edinburgh Cabinet Library.