« 이전계속 »
doctor?' as invariably answered—'a slice of hot plumb-pudding applied inwardly, you young rogue ! A little chat with the present sexton enabled me to take my old place in the gallery, where I recognised my own initials, which I had carved during divine service, and for which offence I was compelled to learn the 119th Psalm, every word of which I can now repeat. In my mind's eye I saw once more the pretty Miss S.; and I again turned from the pew she used to occupy, in the eager expectation of seeing my father enter the door-way, on his Sunday visit to me, with news from dulce domum.
I could not proceed with my recollections ; I could not forget the sum of the griefs, the deprivations, and the errors of 'twenty years.
On such occasions they appear as foreground objects, while the gratifications which rendered them tolerable are lost in the distance.
But whilst we deplore the mistakes and errors of the years that are past, should we not reflect that those who have yet twenty years' to live, are, with respect to the future, young ? Ought we not, with our experience of the past, to begin, as we are permitted to do, to live afresh ? Is it not our duty to remember, that if we seriously endeavour to rectify what has been wrong in our conduct, we are as one of those little ones,' and that our course is yet before us? With such considerations, a review of our early years, and of subsequent occurrences, cannot fail of being useful ; and with these sentiments I will conclude my. Reminiscences of Childhood!'
Js fame the fallen hero's lot
On Waterloo's ensanguined plain ?
Pleads for the dead in vain.
Whose name-wliose tale no tongue imparts,
That steal from broken hearts.
Or is the wreath-enwoven bay
Above the grave of Genius hung ?
And minstrel's name who sung?
But ah, how oft unknown for whom !
Her greenest garlands bloom !-
Of future praise to be the theme;
On earth is but a dream.
What’vails the blessed light of day?
That cannot list the lay.
ON THE BURNING OF HINDOO WIDOWS.
A late number of the Oriental Herald contains an extremely interesting article
upon this subject, the object of which is to shew that these horrible sacrifices are not, as they have so frequently been represented, purely volun. tary; although the latest returns of the average number of women who are burned on the funeral piles of their husbands are two per diem. The last parliamentary report upon this subject is, it states, false and deceptive. It asserts that the sacrifices which it enumerates were voluntary,'—that the widow was burnt of her own free accord;' or to make it stronger, of her own free will and accord;'—and this falsehood is repeated over and over again more than a dozen times. Now what is the fact ? The widow is built into, or fastened down upon the pile by means of weights, ropes, and levers, so as to be cut off from that retreat which her own superstition, dark and bloody as it is, has mercifully left open to her. The shasters have prescribed the rites by which, if she choose to draw back, she
may be restored to her family and caste, and her broken vow expiated. But this door of escape, strange to say, the British government has now suffered to be closed against her. Among the numerous cases detailed in the Indian newspapers, the most horrible was one which occured at Poonah in September. The woman, on feeling the torture of the fire, threw herself from the flames, and the European gentlemen present extinguished her burning clothes by plunging her in the water. She complained that the pile, from being badly constructed, consumed her so slowly that she could not endure the pain. When her inhuman relations saw her shrinking back from it, they laid hold of her and placed her upon it by force, and held her there, striking her with logs of wood, till they were driven away by the flames. She then escaped a second time, burst through her murderers, and, to assuage her torture, plunged herself into the water, her skin being by this time almost entirely scorched off her body. On this, the miscreants tried to drown her, but were prevented, and the wretched woman, having lingered till next day, died in the hospital! But for the accidental presence of several English gentleman, (Major Taylor, Lieuts. Morley, Apthorpe, Cooke, Swanson, Mr. Lloyd, and others,) who made it known through the newspapers, and attested the facts beyond dispute, this also would have been set down as a voluntary suttee, or perhaps never have been heard of at all. As it was, the evidence of the native officers, who were present officially, went to prove, in contradiction to these six gentlemen, that the woman's continuance in the fire was perfectly spontaneous, and that she was saved from it against her will! After such a glaring fact, what reliance can be placed on these reports ? Who can doubt that the native officers of our government are bribed to countenance, and justify by perjury, if necessary, these diabolical scenes ? According to the evidence of Major Taylor, and the other gentlemen above-named, these native officers were the very persons who encouraged the murderers to proceed, otherwise the deed would not have been accomplished. When the gentlemen would have prevented it, they said “it was the custom to burn women when they attempted to escape;' and that the Brahmins ' had permission from the collector, Sahib, to carry on the suttee.' No one could venture to interrupt a murder committed under the sanction of such high authorities. Thus the presence of the police has a pernicious rather than a beneficial tendency, and the present mode of interference by licensing regular suttees, instead of preventing even irregular ones, is supposed to justify them all.
In another case, were a sister was sacrificed with the body of the deceased instead of a wife, the father was prosecuted for preparing and setting fire to the pile, and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment; but the highest judicial authorities in Bengal, to whom the case was ultimately referred, decided that there was nothing in the act to bring it within the charge of murder. What, then, is murder, if any female whatever whether wife, or sister, or daughter, may be burnt to death innocently? In other cases, children of twelve, thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen years of age, have frequently been sacrificed, although sixteen is declared to be the legal age; but still the murderers escape entirely, or are subjected merely to some slight punishment, as, a trifling fine, or a few months' imprisonment, just enough to give them the merit of suffering for religion's sake. În many cases the police officers know nothing of the matter until it is over; and as the perpetrators are under no obligation to give previous intimation of their intentions, they only do so when they wish to have the formal license and sanction of government for their barbarity.
The returns of the number of women sacrificed during the years 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821, 1822, and 1823, in the different districts of India are as follow:
There is one light more under which this question ought to be viewed. The miserable situation of Hindoo females, after the death of their husbands, is, in reality, the strongest inducement to commit suicide. From being the female head of the family, they fall at once into a state of wretched dependence on their sons and daughters-in-law, of whom they become drudges or slaves, and are treated with the utmost contumely. The government may remedy this crying evil, without interfering with any religious practice. It may make a law, assigning every widow a sufficient maintenance proportionate to the means of the family, and independent of those who keep her now in a state of abject servility. Shall we be told here again, that government cannot interfere with the rights of property, or the laws of succession ?-although it has appropriated to itself ninetenths of the net produce of the soil, and, in a few years, made a complete revolution of almost all the property throughout the country.
While such is the miserable fate of Indian females, of even the highest rank, when they have the misfortune to survive their husbands, with what feelings of dismay must women of humbler circumstances look forward to
the period when the death of their betrothed shall expose them to the sufferings and persecutions of widowhood; for to whom shall they look for relief, when persons so far their superiors despair of finding protection ? And can we be surprised that Hindoo females are driven to seek death as the only refuge from their miseries ?
'Twas eve; the lengthening shadows of the oak
And weeping birch, swept far adown the vale ; And nought upon the hush and stillness broke,
Save the light whispering of the spring-tide gale, In distance dying ; and the measured stroke
Of woodmen at their toil; the feeble wail Of some lone stock-dove, soothing, as it sank On the lulled ear its melody that drank.
The Sun had set; but his expiring beams
Yet lingered in the west, and shed around Beauty and softness o'er the woods and streams,
With coming night's first tinge of shade embrowned. The light clouds mingled, brightened with such gleams
Of glory, as the seraph-shapes surround, That in the visions of the good descend, And o'er the couch of sorrow seem to bend.
There are emotions in that grateful hour
Of twilight and serenity, which steal
Making more pure and tender all we feel,
The thirsty glehe of summer.-We reveal More in such hours of stillness, unto those We love, than years of passion could disclose.
The heavens look down on us with eyes of love,
And earth itself looks heavenly; the sleep Of Nature is around us, but above
Are beings that eternal vigils keep.
With sorrow once, and fled from crowds to weep
V. "Tis sweet to mark the sky's unruffled blue
Fast deepening into darkness, as the rays Of lingering eve die fleetly, and a few
Stars of the brightest beam illume the haze,
The veil that shadows it in vain ;-we gaze
'Tis thus in solitude; but sweeter far
By those we love, in that all-softening hour, To watch with mutual eyes each coming star,
And the faint moon-rays streaming through our bower Of foliage, wreathed and trembling as the car
Of night rolls duskier onward, and each flower And shrub that droops above us, on the sense Seems dropping fragrance more and more intense !
Oh love! undying and etherial love!
Thou habitant of heaven strayed to earth! Thou boon of the Beneficent above,
To worlds, that, void of thee, were worlds of dearth! Soft as thy Cytherean mother's dove
As thy own Psyche bright-eyed from thy birth ; Poets might feign, or priests of old conceive thee, And heathen maids delightedly believe thee !
But not in leafy haunts and hushed retreats
Enthusiasts fondly consecrate as thine,
The adoring gaze, alone is reared thy shrine :
From Ajut's icy regions to the line-
J. G. G.