« PreviousContinue »
though not till after he had given himself a severe wound. It was discovered, unhappily too late, that Lutchman Dow, far from absconding for any hostile purpose, had repaired secretly to Calcutta, to communicate to the supreme government certain grievances of which he had to complain.
* See Asiatic Annual Register, for 1809, p. 3.
The fort of Adjyghur, situated on the summit of a high mountain, affords another of the many examples that exist in India, of works of high antiquity, and of wonderful execution.
"When the British entered the fort, they were struck with the objects that presented themselves. Here were seen three large reservoirs, of very fine fresh water, cut with wonderful labour out of a solid rock: there, the ruins of three most magnificent Hindu temples, built of stones, laid without cement, but most nicely fitted to each other, and adorned within and without with sculpture of chaste design, and the most exquisite workmanship.
"The æra of the erection of these venerable buildings is lost in antiquity; but they are evidently much older than the fortress, which was built by an ancient Rajah, called Ajygopaul, and after him called Adjyghur; the latter adjunct signifying a fortress.
"Ajygopaul himself lived beyond the reach of any
When a Hindū finds that life is near its end, he will talk of his approaching dissolution with entire composure; and if near to the Ganges, or any other sacred river, will desire to be carried out to expire on its bank; nor will he do any thing to preserve life, that may be in any way contrary to the rules of his cast, or his religion.
That a sense of honour, or of what are thought religious duties, should produce such instances of active courage as we have quoted, notwithstanding the general mildness of temper and resignation under misfortune, that eminently characterize the Hindūs, are circumstances that do not seem to us incompatible with that character. We have in the history of the Christian religion, many examples of females submitting to suffer the most cruel torments of mar
known record. The temples have two large tables with inscriptions; but the language and characters are unknown. The letters are in relief, the stone being cut away from them, according to the frequent custom of antiquity.”—As. Ann. Register for 1809, p. 4.
tyrdom, rather than renounce their faith; but what would seem irreconcilable with the qualities attributed by us to the Hindūs, is, that a crime so repugnant to nature as that of infanticide should be found to exist among them; yet while the fact must be admitted, the very information that establishes it, proves at the same time, that the practice is confined to a few families belonging to some turbulent warlike tribes. One of these, named Raj-Kumars, inhabits a small district in the neighbourhood of Benares. Mr. Jonathan Duncan,* in a letter written by him, while resident there, dated the 26th April, 1789, says: Their number, it is said, doth not altogether exceed forty thousand; most of whom inhabit, in nearly one society, the opposite line of our boundary, in the dominions of his excellency the Vizier. They are originally Raja-Putras; and even ex
* Afterwards Governor of Bombay.
+ The Raj-Putra, or, as it is commonly said, Raj-Put, is a division of the Cshatriya, or military class,
ceed that tribe in the wildness of their notions, and peculiarity of their manners; scarcely owning any allegiance, either to the Vizier's, or to our government; and always ready to betake themselves to arms, to which they are from infancy inured, in resentment either of public or private wrongs, real or imaginary. At the same time they have, I am assured, a sense of honour, from which they do not deviate; and are noted for faithfully adhering to such engagements as they may contract."
He afterwards says, in a letter of the 2d October, 1789: "I am told, and it is indeed generally believed, that it is no unfrequent practice among the tribe of Rajkumar to destroy their daughters, by causing the mothers to refuse them nurture; whence this race of men do often from necessity marry into other Raj-put families. The greatest exception that I can find to this melancholy truth is, that now and then, the more wealthy Rajkumars will sometimes spare, and bring up their female issue
especially where they happen to have none of the male line. This horrid custom is said to exist also among some other tribes, more especially in the Vizier's dominions, and is thought to be founded in the extravagant desire of independency entertained by this race of men; joined, perhaps, to the supposed necessity of procuring a suitable settlement in marriage for these devoted females, were they allowed to grow up; and the disgrace which would ensue from any omission in that respect.”
And again in a letter of the 26th December, 1789: " Having been lately through that part of the country where those of the Rajkumar tribe reside, I have conversed with several of them; and having, from their own confession, found that the custom of female child-murder has long been and still continues very prevalent among them, as noticed in my address of the 2d October, I have prevailed on those situated within our frontier, to agree to renounce in future this horrid practice; to