Imatges de pÓgina

but not over-populous. Overpopulation is a fear, a danger, a reality, only when the whole habitable world is taken into account. Marriage is rather the occasion than the cause of this spending. Ignorance and not marriage is the root of this evil.

81. RAGHUNATH B. TALVALKAR, B. A., HEAD MASTER, HIGH SCHOOL, AMRAOTI.—No doubt the custom of child marriage prevalent among the Hindus and some other races in this country, leads to many evils, and its abolition would greatly contribute to the progress of the people, material and moral......

It appears from the report of the last census that, among the Hindus the proportion of boys married under 10 years of age to the total number of boys under that age is, in Bengal 5.5 per cent., and is higher than that in other provinces. In Berar that proportion is 4, and in Bombay, 2-5. Similar proportions for girls uuder 10 are14 per cent. in Bengal, 21:7 in Berar, and 10.5 in Bombay. The Central Provinces, Madras, North-Western Provinces, and the Punjab, show these proportions for boys and girls comparatively lower than those of Bengal, Berar, and Bombay. The precentage of girls married under 10 in Berar, it is to be observed, is the highest. Early marriages in some sections of the Gujrati Brahmins are very rife; but this is only an exception. Now, if these Brahmins are excepted, the number of boys married under 15, in the Bombay Presidency, is 6 per cent, while that of girls married under 15 is not more than 30 per cent.

Our Shastra, or caste, requires only, that girls should not remain unmarried after puberty; and, for obvious reasons, this rule is salutary, until education enlightens our females......... I am not sure if over-population is an evil attendant upon early marriage. But surely progeny at early age makes parents dependent, and involves them in cares earlier, and certainly enhances their misery, howsoever caused. The most enormous evil of early marriages or rather of early consummation of marital troth, is, indeed, physical degeneration of parents and their offspring. Family cares deprive a man of his independence and spirit of enterprise, and the earlier these cares beset a man, the sooner he becomes helpless and grovelling Youth is a formative period of life, and in a country wherein its youths are not free to enjoy their independence a long time, there is no hope of the growth of enterprising and energetic characters. That country must remain far behindhand in the race of material and moral advancement....



82. HON'BLE J. GIBBS C.S.I., C.I.E.-The former child marriage ) is a practice not confined to Hindus, but is practised by Parsis and Mahomedans also. And having watched it carefully for many years, I am convinced that it results in great physical as well as moral evils. I was first struck with the results of early marriage when I was serving in Gujerat, about 30 years ago. And the inquiries I then made, led me to the conclusion that the physical consequences were very injurious to both sexes. Young mothers became stunted in growth, and often became invalids for life, while children were too often puny and weak. But it was during my residence in Bombay in 1860-62, when I first met poor Karsandas Mulji and heard from him the result of his inquiries, which went much farther than mine had done, that I found my own view terribly confirmed.

83. THE MARQUIS OF RIPON (AUGUST 1886.)—I trust that the day is not far distant, when the reforms which you advocate will be accomplished, and I do not hesitate to say that the effect of their adoption upon public opinion in England will be of the best kind.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

84. A. MACKENZIE Esq., SECRETARY TO GOVERNMENT OF INDIA:—I wish you a hearty god-speed in your compaign against these two monstrous evils, which have so long been sapping the morals, the mind, and the physique of India........ It is quite true that, with much that is hopeful, there is much to discourage those who would fain see India growing. Many of my native friends who were sound enough is theory on the subject of infant marriage, failed when the question came to personal and practical issues. They could be pilots of others, but sank themselves to be castaways. It is because I think such a movement as you desire to inaugurate, would strengthen the knees of such feeble folk, that I especially wish you success

85. SIR STEUART BAYLEY.-That they are both serious evils, no one can doubt, and I believe the evil of them to be generally recognised among the educated Hindus.

86. MANOMOHAN GHOSE.-I look upon the system (of child marriages) as the greatest curse of our country, and entirly agree with you in all that you have said.

87. S. N. TAGORE Esq., C.S.-—The pernicious custom of child marriage ought especially to engage our attention. It is a canker that eats into the vitals of our national existence, and if not removed in time, may lead to the degeneracy and decay of the whole race.

88. DINSHAW ARDESIR TALEYARKHAN.—When girls are scarce in any caste, a grown up youth or an ederly man will not grudge to have the smallest girl in marriage. In fact she would not be within reach, without a large dowry. In a rail. way train, some time ago, I came across a high caste Hindu gentleman, certainly much over thirty, in company with a girl hardly eleven who was his wife, thin and pale beyond description and a figure of lean flesh and nominal bones, which folded up and fell into deep slumber as soon as the carriage moved. It perplexes me often to know how a renovated spirit can be inwardly induced, to mitigate premature womanhood, and not omitting such manhood too..........

And yet it is a wonder, how this nation has succeeded, for ages, in preserving such a marked harmony of their homes. If we have weakly children, the homes at least are happy, contented, well regulated and economical. We must be careful in not losing this natu ral feature, while we cautiously attempt to bring about a new good......

Our English ideas actually jar with their sympathies, their antipathies, and all the important affections of their heart and head. The boys and girls have no world of their own, which we delude ourselves by believing they would have, as soon as we give it to the m, They are the creatures of their parents, brought up in the time-honoured instincts, associations and motives of caste organisms.

89. RAO BAHADUR SIRDAR GOPALRAO HARI DESHMUKH, LATE MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, BOMBAY:— With regard to early marriage, I consider it a most pernicious custom which makes the nation very weak. It is necessary that in a country, there should be a number of bachelors who would venture upon enterprize, foreign travel &c. What makes Hindus so feeble, is the custom of early marriage. They have hardly strength either to become soldiers, or to cultivate land, or to go for trade to foreign countries. They are unfit as colonizers. Every man has a family. Even little boys are burdened with wives and children. A girl cannot be kept unmarried beyond ten years : hence parents are at any cost to get her wedded, even to an old man or a sickly youth. The consequence of this is, that the race is being gradually deteriorated. Children die soon, and there are more widows now than there were 50 years ago. The evil is very great, and is corroding the very vitals of the nation.........At present women have no status in society, and they are made to give a silent consent to all cruelties.

90. N. C. BISWAS FIRST ENGLISH TEACHER, GOVERNMENT MODEL SCHOOL, CALCUTTA.—In Bengal, infant marriage is countenanced by low caste Hindus. This abominable custom,

very anxious

I am happy to say, does not nowadays suit the taste of the upper ten of the Hindu community.

91. Rao Bahadur Madhav W. SHIRGAONKAR, JOINT ADMINISTRATOR OF MIRAJ.-I condemn infant marriages, not because I think that they afterwards prove unhappy-which statement I will not accept unsupported by statistics—but because such marriages increase infant widows, and the issues of such unions are not such as they otherwise would be, if marriages take place in mature age.

92. COL. E. W. WEST, POLITICAL AGENT, KATHIAWAR. I know well the miseries of these infant marriages. I have seen often puny striplings, the fathers of still more puny and feeble offspring, and I have, on various occasions, tried to impress on my native friends, that the reason for the energy of the Teutonic races may be found in the practice which Tacitus remarked many centuries ago, “Sera juventum venus adeoque inexhausta pubertas.” I have known many cases of old men marrying girls not yet emerged from childhood, and it needs but little knowledge of human nature to realise the misery, during the husband's life time, and of Hindu ways, to realize the misery, after his death, of the girl. When I have referred to such cases in conversation with native friends, they have always been ready to acknowledge the wretchedness that such customs produce, while they invariably deplore their inability to deviate from custom.

93. KESHAVLAL MADHAVDAS Esq., (RUTLAM.)-Early Marriages are a novel institution, which is not observable except in the East. It makes the whole nation altogether weak and unfit for enterprise.

94. RAMANUJCHARI, M. A., B. L., VICE-PRINCIPAL MAHARAJA'S COLLEGE, VIZRANAGRAM.--The thing complained of, is the practice of the selling of girls by their parents or other near relatives, and it has become so rife in these parts of the country, that girls are disposed of in marriage to the highest bidders, like goods at an auction sale without reserve, every other consideration being subordinated to that of money.

« AnteriorContinua »