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funeral pile, “she must emaciate her body by
living on pure flowers, and devote herself to per“ petual austerity of pious suffering.” While the husband is permitted to associate with “the “ wives of singers and of dancers and of such base
men, or with servant girls maintained by one
master, or with female anchorites of an heretical “ religion, at the expense of an inconsiderable fine;" the wife is explicitly warned that, if she permit a man to talk with her at a place of pilgrimage, in the shadow of a grove, or at the confluence of rivers ; or to touch her apparel and ornaments; or to send her flowers and perfumes; or to sit with her on the same couch; that man shall be held guilty of adultery with her, and both shall become liable to the last punishment of the law * Thus surrounded by. restrictions which close upon her on every side, and liable to the penal imputation of even constructive crime, the married woman is to exist but for another, and unite the wife and the mother in the slave. And what, in this world, is to be her recompence? She is to be numbered as a wife among many wives who are no less miserable than herself, who have equal claims on the affection of her husband, who are equally bound to minister to his gratification, and equally subject to the cognizance of laws, framed only to enforce their unlimited obedience to the capriciousness of his will, and the tyranny of his despotismt.
• Laws of Menu. Works of Sir William Jones, vol. viii. pp. 269, 270, 271, 272, 378, 388, 399.
†" My husband,” says a feniale, in the Heetopades,“ may, if he please, sell me to the gods, or give me to the Bramins;" that is, as the translator interprets it, devote her to the sacrifice of the Maramedha. Heetopad. Transl. by Sir William Jones, p. 185.
To the generous
These laws seem to recognise but one virtue, voluntary or compulsory, in women. sentiment, the pure and disinterested love, the noble confidence, the tenderness delighted to lavish itself on the object of its devotion, they have no reference. They were made for the sole purpose of securing the chastity of the wife, not by inspiring her with high and holy motive, but by announcing the punishments reserved for infidelity, and confirming the despotism of jealous restraint.
The glance of a strange eye, the approach of a strange hand, a word of salutation from a strange lip, they denounce as dangerous or fatal to the virtue which they guard; and the regulations which they prescribe for the restraint of the frailty imputed to the sex, are announced in terms too explicit to be misunderstood, and too gross for modesty either to repeat or to hear *
The lawgiver has denounced the crime of adultery with unequal and inequitable rigor. The punishment varies according to the class of the offenders. Fine, banishment, mutilation, tonsure, a confiscation of property, may sufficiently atone for an adulterous connexion with a person of an inferior rank t. But the woman of higher rank who offends against the law is surely to perish ; and the inspired Menu has pronounced her sentence with more than the severity of the Athenian Draco : “ If
a wife, proud of her family and of the great qua~ lities of her kinsfolk, violate the duties she owes " to her lord, let the king doom her to be devoured
* They enumerate, with the most indecent minuteness, every act by which chastity may be sullied, and punishment merited; but I dare note quote them. · Code of Gentoo Laws, ch. xix.
† Some of these punishments are of a singular character; but here also I must content myself with a general indication. Code Gentoo Laws, ch. xis.
by dogs in a place much frequented; and let him “ bind the adulterous man on an iron bed well “ heated, under which the executioner shall throw
logs continually till the sinful wretch be con“ sumed *.”.
Under a system thus cruel and absurd, all social intercourse is impaired and vitiated, and the progress of civilization is opposed by apparently insuperable obstructions. What delicacy of manners may be expected where the wife is to leave her chamber but by the permission of her husband; where, if she be suffered to pass beyond the walls of her prison, the long veil is to conceal her countenance from the unholy gaze of the people t, and the vigilance of special attendants is to watch over her conduct; and where the jealousy with which she is guarded subsides only when she is known to be immured in a distan't apartment, and incapacitated from sullying the suspicious and vindictive humour of her master ? What results favourable to the human faculties, or to the charities and affections which sweeten life, can be expected from a state of domestic society in which there is so little occasion afforded for the exercise of good will, of mutual attachment, or of reciprocal esteem; and the husband-lord is to mete out his kindness as he wills to wives who are to compete with each other for his capricious favour, and are equally subject to his capricious authority? What
• Laws of Menu. Sir William Jones' Works, vol. viii. p. 300.
† It was formerly a crime punishable by death for any man to approach the road on which any of the king's wives were travelling. Strabo, xv. p. 1037.
source of refinement can we look for in a condition of things which, ratifying the most unequal ties, and degrading marriage into a union of the despot and the slave, cannot but corrupt and degrade the heart, and tend to substitute in one party implicit obedience for generous and voluntary affection, and, in the other, the degrading pride of tyrannical authority, for the protecting and fostering care of a just and generous attachment ?—We find, accordingly, that civilization, if it do not retrograde, does not advance in the East. The presence and equality of the sex are wanting to soften manners, and to encourage the politeness of social refinement. The science and the art of the earliest periods are neither surpassed, nor equalled, by the art and science of the present day. Dynasties are changed, empires are overthrown, a race of triumphant foreigners are established, England tenders her laws and her knowledge to the people, but the native mind continues unchanged; and causes which, in every other portion of the globe, have produced political and intellectual revolution, and changed the whole aspect of modes and manners, have assailed the unhappy institutions of Hindostan in vain, and left untouched the predominant features of the Hindu character.
Polygamy, in its fullest extent, established by the Koran-Easy repu
diation of the wife-Restraints, duties, punishments Domestic manners those of the master and the slave-Exclusion of women from the paradise of Mahomet—Their future state left doubtful by the Koran—The puridisaical houri to succeed the terrestrial wife-Mahometan society, how affected by the degradation of the
IT does not appear that the disciples of Mahomet have learned to be more just to the rights of the female sex, than the worshippers of Vishnu or of Brama. The Mahometan girl, after having been subjected to restraint from her birth, is married young, and without any reference to affection or choice. The husband is selected by her parents only to become her master. From the obscure privacy of the parental home, she is conducted to the bridal chamber, henceforth to endure the uncontrolled authority of conjugal power. No stranger is to be admitted into her presence. Even a brother is separated from her by a boundary which may rarely, if ever, be passed ; and the charities of kindred are to merge for ever in the exclusive duty required by the unequal tyranny of the laws.
This duty converts the wife into a slave. Whatever be the negligence or contumacy with which she is treated, she may not remonstrate. She may be accused, and questioned, and punished; but the voice of accusation from her lip would be a frightful omen in a seraglio. When her husband
she must clothe her face in smiles, and bend to his pleasure and caprice, or abide the punishment due to contumacy and disrespect. She may be degraded, chas