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Had Marquis Wellesley remained in India, and been permitted to complete his salutary plans for the improvement of that distant Empire (for he did not finish one half of the civil and political regulations which he had in view, and had actually commenced) the Female Sacrifice would probably have been by this time abolished.* The humanity and intrepid spirit of that nobleman abolished a yet more criminal practice, which was considered by the Hindoos as a religious rite, and consecrated by custom. I mean the SACRIFICE of CHILDREN. His Lordship had been informed that it had been a custom of the Hindoos to sacrifice children in consequence of vows, by drowning them, or exposing them to Sharks and Crocodiles; and that twentythree persons had perished at Saugor in one month (January 1801), many of whom were sacrificed in this manner. He immediately instituted an inquiry into the principle of this ancient atrocity, heard what Natives and Europeans had to say on the subject; and then passed a law, “ declaring the practice to be murder,
punishable by death."-The law is entitled, “ A Regulation for preventing the Sacrifice of “ Children at Saugor and other places; passed
* Ibid. p. 47
by the Governor-General in Council on the “ 20th of August, 1802.”—The purpose of this regulation was completely effected. murmur was heard on the subject; nor has any attempt of the kind come to our knowledge since. It is not possible to calculate the number of human lives that has been saved, during the last eight years, by this humane law of Marquis Wellesley.-Now it is well known that it is as easy to prevent the sacrifice of women as the sacrifice of children. Has this fact ever been denied by any man who is competent to offer a judgment on the subject? Until the supreme Government in Bengal shall declare that it is utterly impracticable to lessen the frequency of the Immolation of Females by any means, the friends of humanity, we trust, will not cease to call the attention of the English Na. tion to this subject,
HINDOO INFANTICIDE ;
MURDER OF FEMALE CHILDREN.
Among the Hindoo tribes called the JAREJAH, in the provinces of Cutch and Guzerat, in the West of India, it is a custom to destroy female infants. “ The mother herself is commonly " the executioner of her own offspring. Wo. “ men of rank may have their slaves and atten“ dants, who perform this office, but the far
greater number execute it with their own “hands."*-In defence of this practice, these tribes allege, that the education of daughters is expensive; that it is difficult to procure a suitable settlement for them in marriage ; that the preservation of female honour is a charge of solicitude in a family ; and that when they want wives, it is more convenient to buy them, or solicit them from another çast, than to breed them themselves.
This atrocity has been investigated and
* " They appear to have several methods of destroying the !! infant, but two are prevalent. Immediately after the birth " of a female, they put into its moulh some opium, or draw “ the umbilical cord over the face, which prevents respiration. « But the destruction of so tender and young a subject is not “ difficult, and it is effected without causing a struggle." Col. Walker's report, paragraph 55.-Col. W. further states, that Dadajee, the Chief of Raj-kut, being interrogated as to the mode of killing the infants, emphatically said, “What diffi“culty is there in blasting a flower ?"-He added, in allusion to the motives for infanticide, “ that the Rubaries, or Goat“ herds, in his country, allow the male kids to die, when “ there are many of them brought forth."
brought to light by the benevolent and truly laudable exertions of the honourable Jonathan Duncan, Governor of Bombay; to whom humanity is now indebted for one of her greatest victories. Mr. Duncan had instructed Colonel Walker, late Political Resident in Guzerat, to inform himself, (in a military progress through that province) of the nature and extent of the practice of Infanticide, and in the name of the British Government, to endeavour to affect its abolition. The Bombay Government has now transmitted to the Court of Directors the official report from that officer, dated the 15th March, 1803; and from this document, detailed in 298 paragraphs, the following facts are given to the public. This disclosure seems to have been directed by Providence, at this time, to aid the councils of the British nation, when considering the obligations which are due from a Christiau empire, in regard to the moral-improvement of its heathen subjects. But the fact of Hindoo Infanticide is by no means new.* Mr. Duncan himself was instrumental in abolishing the crime among the tribe of the Raj-kumars, in Juanpore,
* See it noticed in “ Memoir of the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India."
near Benares, in the year 1789. Indeed, the unnatural custom seems to have subsisted for more than two thousand years; for both Greek and Roman historians mention it, and refer to those very places (Barygaza or Baroach) where it is now to be found. The number of females who were thus sacrificed in Cutch and Guzerat alone, (for it is practised in several other provinces) amounted, by the very lowest computation, (in 1807) to three thousand annually. . Other calculations vastly exceed that number.
Lieut.-Colonel ALEXANDER WALKER had first the honour of appearing before this people as the advocate of humanity. He addressed them in his official character; and, as ambassador from the British nation, he intreated them to suffer their daughters to live. It seems that they had means of appreciating the private character of this officer, and they respected his virtues : but in regard to this moral negotiation, they peremptorily refused even to listen to it.The following are extracts of letters addressed to him on the occasion.
Letter from the Jarejah JEHAJEE of Murvee,
to Colonel Walker, 24th Sept. 1807.
“ Your letter, Sir, I have received, in which it is written to rear up and protect our daughters : but the cir