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marriages do violence to nature itself, set at naught the rights of women as human beings, and are calculated to produce manifold evils ; while enforced widowhood entails undeserved misery and frequently leads to crime.
101. A. 0. HUME Esq.-Most entirely do I agree with you that much misery results from these customs (infant marriage and enforced widowhood), that in the present day (whatever may have been the case in times long past) the evil generated by them far outweighs any good with which they can justly be credited—that yearly this disproportion will increase, and that their abolition is even now an object in every way worthy to be aimed at......
Though I admit that the evil does on the whole outweigh the good, it is not fair to our people to allow it to be supposed that they are so helplessly blind, as to cling to institutions which are utterly and unmitigatedly bad. In the existing state of the native social problem, no really impartial competent judge will, I believe, deny that, in many cases, these institutions, even yet, work fairly well. There are millions of cases in which early marriages are believed to be daily proving happy ones, and in which consummation having been deferred by the parents (and this my friends say, is the usual case) till a reasonable age (I mean for Asiatic girls), the progeny are, 80 far as we can judge, perfectly healthy, physically and mentally,
A native friend writes to me.--" The wife, transplanted to her husband's home at a tender age, forgets the ties that bound her to the parental hearth, and by the time she comes of
age, is perfectly naturalized in her adopted family, and though she is allowed no wifely intercourse with her husband until she attains a fitting age, still the husband and wife have constant opportunities of assimilating each other's natures, and growing, as it were, into one, so that when the real marriage takes place, the love they feel for each other is not merely passion, but is mingled with far higher and purer feeling. Misfortunes cannot alienate our wives, they have no frowns for us, even though we commit the most heinous crimes, or illtreat or sin against themselves. Those ignorant of our inner life call this a vile subjugation, and say that we have made our wives our slaves; but those who live amongst us know, that it is the result of that deep seated affection that springs from early association and religious (if you will, superstitious) teaching. Where will you find a wife so true and contented as a Hindu's? Where more purity of thought or more religious fervour than in the Hindu women of respectable families ? Our men alas ! may be materialists, atheists, immoral, base, but our women are goodness in human shape, and why? Because they have been shown an object on which to concentrate the entire love and veneration of their natures, at a time when their pure hearts were unsullied by any other impressions or ideas, and taught to look up to their husbands, whose faces. they could only look on after many solemn ceremonies, as their guardians, protectors, and gods."
Every thing in this world has its darker and brighter sides, and the blackest cloud has some silver lining; and though my friend in his happy husband hood (for his has been, I know, a happy infant marriage) generalizes too enthusias-. tically from his own experience, still he has some foundation for his contention; and infant marriage (though fraught with grievous misery in too many cases, though a customs marked for extinction, and daily becoming more and more of an anachronism, and more and more of an evil, taking its results as. a whole) has not yet become that unmitigated curse, unrelieved by redeeming features, which, forgive me if I say so, your: vigorous onslaught would, it seems to me, lead the European readers to believe.
Do you remember Uncle Tom's Cabin ?............ But for Uncle Tom's Cabin, I fully believe that slavery would have been abolished before now, and without any civil war.
102. HIRANAND KHEMSING B. A. HYDERABAD (SINDH).--Gold is the chief motive of many parents in our
marriages ; every other consideration of suitableness, age, education, and a fair face, being sacrificed to this powerful incentive. On account of extreme divisions of caste, and on account of reluctance or rather impossibility of our marrying from another caste, girls for marriage are generally scarce, and hence follows their sale to the highest-bidder. But it is quite the contrary with the Amil community to which I belong. Here we have a regular sale of boys to the highest bidder who has a daughter or two to dispose of. The reason is that the rules of the Amil Panchayat do not prevent them from marrying their boys with girls from other Hindu classes of Sind............. The Amils are thus free to import girls, but not export their own............ The number of girls and boys for marriage being out of proportion, a sale of boys follows.
103. LILARAM VATANMAL, SUB-JUDGE, KARACHI D18TRICT.—That the two vices you have so ably exposed do exist, even to the extent shown by you, is a fact that every educated Hindu of some experience will acknowledge inwardly, if not outwardly.
104. W. WORDSWORTH.-I consider infant marriage an irrational practice, and one which must seriously hamper any society that adopts it. I believe that this opinion is held by Hindus who have learned to exercise their reason freely, and that even among the followers of the old learning, there are some who hold it. I listened with keen interest, the other day, to Mr. Raghonath Row's lecture on this subject, and to Mr. Ranade's impressive appeal to his countrymen to accept the platform proposed by the lecturer. It seemed to me that his audience were, on the whole, agreed that infant and early marriages were undesirable, but that their agreement went no further...
How far Indian society has suffered and how far it has gained, if you will concede that it has gained any thing, from its peculiar marriage customs, is a poblem which no one is in a position to solve. I believe that those customs are inconsistent with the new life, into which India is daily being impelled, and that the new ideas of that life no less than its material circumstances and conditions, must tell inevitably against them*
105. HON'BLE MR. DYARAM JETHMUL.-It may be taken for granted that infant marriages are a monstrous evil.
106. HON'BLE MR. C. P. ILBERT, C.S.1.—That the social position of women is one of the surest tests of civilization, and that the institutions of infant marriage and enforced widowhood are incompatible with the position which women ought to occupy in a perfectly civilised society, these are propositions which command a ready assent.
107. Right HONOURABLE LORD HOBHOUSE. I quite concur in the importance which you attach to infant marriages, and believe them to be a serious obstacle to the improvement of Indian society.
108. Hon. Sir Rivers THOMPSON.—The subject, in both its aspects of restraint of infant marriages and of enforced widowhood, has been for some time under my consideratian officially, and I am happy to be able to give you the assurance that so far from anything like hostility or indifference to your efforts, the common opinion of every officer whom I have cnnsulted, is in strong support of your endeavours to accomplish what would be the greatest social reform ever effected in India.
* In a minute recorded by Mr. Wordsworth as Chairman of the Rukhmabai Defence Committee, he wrote “I am quite willing to believe with Mr. Telang that, domestic virtue and conjugal felicity are not incompatible with infant marriages, and I join with him in insisting that our committee should not so enlarge its scope as to embrace any direct attack on that system, or even formally to pronounce any opinion about it. Personally, I hold strongly that no great social or political improvement can be looked for in Hindu society, so long as it adheres to that system. For one thing, it seems to me simply incompatible with any marked advance in female education, and I cannot hope that Hindu society will ever emerge from what I consider its present feeble civilisation, which must condemn it in the future as it has condemned it in the past, to be the servants of manlier and more energetic races, so long as Hindu mothers remain in their present bondage of ignorance and superstition
SECTION 1. MADRAS PRESIDENCY.
1. C. RAMCHANDRA AIYAR, SUB-JUDGE, MADURA. --The Courts created by the British Government, so far back as 1805, without thoroughly investigating into the question when raised, and without acquainting themselves with the forms and ceremonies constituting infant marriage, but relying upon the statements of the old priests, whose prejudices in those days were deeper than the prejudices of the orthodox Brahmins of the present day, recognized in a betrothed infant girl the status of a widow. I feel sure that it can be shown, to the satisfaction of the Government, that the term 'widow' has through misapprehension, error, and ignorance, become perverted from its original signification, so as to apply even to a babe in the arms of her mother.....
.......As Sub-Judge I have had experience of Ganjam, Vizagapatam, Cocanada, Bellary, Palghat, Calicat, Tellicherry, and I have attended innumerable marriages..... The Palghat Brahmans, and the Brahmans of the East coast, do perform the tail, tying ceremony and Sapta pathi on the first day, and on the fourth night they make the infant couple sleep on one mat in a room, which is only a symbolic consummation, or a symbol of actual consummation, which is essential to the completion of a marriage. The same practice is observed even to this day in all the Brahman families of Travancore and Cochin, and in some of the Brahman communities of Tanjore, Madura, and South Arcot Districts. Among the Telegu Brahmans of Northern Circars, Masalipatam, and Bellary, on the 4th day of the infant marriage, the infant couple are made to sit on one mat, and they are made to exchange betel and nut and chew, which is only a symbol of consummation. I call it symbol, because the first thing