Imatges de pàgina


Nothing can equal the contempt and insolence to BOOK II. which it is the lot of the lowest among them to see

| CHAP. 2. themselves exposed. They are condemned to live in a sequestered spot by themselves, that they may not pollute the very town in which they reside. If they meet a man of the higher castes, they must turn out of the way, lest he should be contaminated by their presence.

T“ Avoid.” says the Tantra, “ the touch of the Chandala, and other abject classes. Whoever associates with them undoubtedly falls from his elass; whoever bathes or drinks in wells or pools which they have caused to be made, must be purified by the five productions of kine.” Colebrooke on the Indian Classes, Asiat. Research. v. 53. From this outline of the classification and distribution of the people, as extracted from the books of the Hindus, some of the most intelligent of our British observers appeal to the present practice of the people, which they affirm is much more conformable to the laws of human welfare, than the institutions described in the ancient books. Of this, the author is aware; so inconsistent with the laws of human welfare are the institutions described in the Hindu ancient books, that they never could have been observed with any accuracy; it is, at the same time, very evident, that the institutions described in the ancient books are the model upon which the present frame of Hindu society has been formed; and when we consider the powerful causes which have operated so long to draw, or rather to force, the Hindus from their ineonvenient institutions and customs, the only source of wonder is, that the state of society which they now exhibit should hold so great a resemblance to that which is depicted in their books. The President de Goguer is of opinion, that a division of the people into tribes and hereditary professions similar to that of the Hindus existed in the ancient Assyrian empire, and that it prevailed from the highest antiquity over almost all Asia (part I. book I. ch. i. art. 3; Herodot. lib. i. cap. 200; Strab. lib. xvi. p. 1082; Diod. lib. ii. p 142.) Cecrops distributed into four tribes all the inhabitaats of Attica. (Pollux, lib. viii. cap. 9. sect. 100; Diodorus Siculus, lib. ii. p. 33.) Theseus afterwards made them three by uniting, as it should seem, the sacerdotal class with that of the nobles, or magistrates. They consisted then of nobles and priests, labourers or husbandmen, and artificers; and there is no doubt that, like the Egyptians and Indians, they were hereditary. (Plutarch. Vit. Thes.) Aristotle expressly informs us, (Polit. lib. vii. cap. 10.) that in Crete the people were divided by the laws of Minos into classes after the manner of the Egyptians. We have most remarkable proof of a division, the same as that of the Hindus, anciently established

BOOK II. among the Persians. In the Zendavesta, translated by Anquetil DuCHAP. 3. perron, is the following passage: “ Ormusd said, There are three measures

(literally weights, that is, tests, rules of conduct, four states, and five places of dignity. The states are: that of the priest; that of the soldier; that of the husbandman, the source of riches; and that of the artisan or labourer.” Zendavesta, i. 141. There are sufficient vestiges to prove an ancient establishment of the same sort among the Buddhists of Ceylon, and by consequence to infer it among the other Buddhists over so large a portion of Asia. See a Discourse of Mr. Joinville on the Religion and Manners of the People of Ceylon, Asiat. Research. vii. 430, et seq.-M.

There is no distinction of caste amongst the Buddhists, although in some places an attempt may have been made to introduce some such distinction, after the Hindu model. The multiplication of castes in India, is not the enactment of any code, though it may be remotely the effect; it is the work of the people, amongst the most degraded of whom, prevails, not the shame, but the “pride” of caste. The lowest native is no outcaste, he has an acknowledged place in society; he is the member of a class; and he is invariably more retentive of the distinction than those above him. In depicturing the horrors of the system, European writers lose sight of the compensations. The veriest Chandala, who is one of a community, is less miserable, less unhappy, than many of the paupers of the civilized communities of Europe, with whom no man owns companionship or kindred; they are the true outcastes—not the Pariah or Chandala.-W.


The Form of Government.

AFTER the division of the people into ranks and occupations, the great circumstance by which their condition, character, and operations are determined, is the political establishment; the system of actions by which the social order is preserved. Among the Hindus, according to the Asiatic model, the government was monarchical, and, with the usual exception of religion and its ministers, absolute. No idea of

any system of rule, different from the will of a single BOOK II.

CHAP. 3. person, appears to have entered the minds of them, or their legislators. “If the world had no king,” says the Hindu law, “it would quake on all sides through fear; the ruler of this universe, therefore, created a king, for the maintenance of this system.” Of the high and uncontrollable authority of the monarch a judgment may be formed, from the lofty terms in which the sacred books describe his dignity and attributes. “A king,” says the law of Menu,? “is formed of particles from the chief guardian deities, and consequently surpasses all mortals in glory. Like the sun, he burns eyes and hearts; nor can any human creatnre on earth even gaze on him. He, is fire and air; He, the god of criminal justice; He, the genius of wealth; He, the regent of waters; He, the lord of the firmament. A king, even though a child, must not be treated lightly, from an idea that he is a mere mortal: No; he is a powerful divinity, who appears in human shape. In his anger, death. He who shows hatred of the king, through delusion of mind, will certainly perish; for speedily will the king apply his heart to that man's destruction.” The pride of imperial greatness could not devise, hardly could it even desire, more extraordinary distinctions, or the sanction of a more unlimited authority,

1 Laws of Menu, ch, vii. 3.

9 Ib. ch. vii. 3 Had Mr. Mill sufficiently considered several passages which he presently quotes, or to which he refers, he would have been satisfied that these descriptions of kingly power are mere generalities, and that in practice Hindu despotism did not exist. The Raja was not above the law. “Law,” says Sankara, “is the king of kings, far more powerful than they.” Preface to the Digest. He was not a lawgiver : the laws to which

BOOK II. The plan, according ts which the power of the CHAP. 3.

sovereign was exercised in the government of the country, resembled that which has almost universally prevailed in the monarchies of Asia, and was a contrivance extremely simple and rude. In the more skilful governments of Europe, officers are appointed for the discharge of particular duties in the different provinces of the empire; some for the decision of causes, some for the control of violence, some for collecting the contingents of the subjects, for the expense of the state ; while the powers of all center immediately in the head of the government, and all together act as connected and subordinate wheels in one complicated and artful machine. Among the less instructed and less civilized inhabitants of Asia, no other plan has ever occurred to the monarch, for the administration of his dominions, than simply to divide his own authority and power into pieces or fragments, as numerous as the provinces into which it was deemed convenient to distribute the empire. To

he was amenable, as well as the meanest of his subjects, emanated from a higher, “God having created the four classes, lest the royal and military class should become insupportable through their power and ferocity, produced the transcendent body of law.” Ibid. He was not even permitted to administer it without legal advisers, “let not a prince who seeks the good of his own soul, hastily and alone pronounce the law.” Manu, viii. 281. The authority of the Brahmans, was not a nominal restraint. In early times, they undertook to depose princes for tyranny and impiety, see the legends of Vena, Parasurama and Devápi, Vishnu Purana, 99. 401. 458, and the Mudrá Rákshasa, Hindu Theatre, vol. 2. There were also other checks upon regal power in a hereditary nobility, “men of high lineage, whose ancestors were servants of kings," for at a very early period, offices of state seem to have become hereditary, and the hereditary minister was often more powerful than his master. The great Kshatriyas, represented by the Samants of Prithu Rai and the present Thakurs of Jaypur and Jodhpur, seldom allowed despotic power to their prince. See Mudra Rabshasa; Tod's Raja'sthan; Duft's Mahrattas.-W.


each of the provinces a vicegerent was despatched, BOOK who carried with him the undivided authority and jurisdiction of his master. Whatever powers the sovereign exercised over the whole kingdom, the vicegerent exercised in the province allotted to him ; and the same plan which the sovereign adopted for the government of the whole, was exactly followed by the vicegerent in the government of a part. If the province committed to his sway was too extensive for his personal inspection and control, he subdivided it into parts, and assigned a governor to each, whom he intrusted with the same absolute powers in his district, as he himself possessed in the administration of the greater department. Even this inferior deputy often divided his authority, in the same manner, among the governors, whom he appointed, of the townships or villages under his control. Every one of those rulers, whether the sphere of his command was narrow or extensive, was absolute within it, and possessed the whole power of the sovereign, to levy taxes, to raise and command troops, and to decide upon the lives and property of the subjects. The gradations of command among the Hindus were thus regulated; The lowest of all was the lord of one town and its district; The next was the lord of


"Kæmpfer, in his History of Japan, book i. chap. v, says, “the whole empire is governed in general by the Emperor, with an absolute and monarchical power, and so is every province in particular by the prince, who, under the Emperor, enjoys the government thereof."-For the similarity of the institution in the Ottoman government, see Volney's Travels in Syria and Egypt, ii. 376.

. This is not correct; even Manu separates the military from the civil authority. “Let him place a division of troops, commanded by an approved officer, over two, three, five, or a hundred districts, according to their extent,” vii. 214.-W.

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