Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

well versed in the study of the Bible, and ed lover of nature, and ever listened to the writings of the most eminent divines her teachings with the humbleness of a of his time; was well acquainted with child ; he was a good man, and lived ecclesiastical, civil, and natural history; with his eye of faith fixed upon heaven ; and possessed a correct judgment respect and was also the most worthy master ing poetry. The simplicity and natural and father of that art about which he has elegance of his style of writing, have written a most delightful book, and for been, and ever will be more admired than which all true anglers will forever honor successfully imitated He was a devot- and revere his name.

THE VALLEY OF UNREST.

BY EDGAR A. POE.

Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visiter shall confess
The sad valley's restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless-
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides !
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustles through the unquiet Heaven
Unceasingly, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye-
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave :—from out their fragrant tops
Eternal dews come down in drops.
They weep :—from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.
They wave; they weep; and the tears, as they well
From the depth of each pallid lily-bell,
Give a trickle and a tinkle and a knell.

THE CITY IN THE SEA.

A PROPHECY.

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far off in a region unblest,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

CASTES AND OCCUPATIONS OF INDIA.

BY JAMES D. WHELPLEY.

Before the conquest of India by the B. C.); but if they were established at that Moslems, that part of Asia which lies period as the law of the land, they must south of the Himmaleh, or Snowy Chain, long have been instituted at the epoch of was occupied by the aboriginal Hindoos, Buddha. the descendants of that ancient people, But the division of society into classes, who are celebrated by the Greek histo- according to their occupations began in rians as the wisest of mankind. The Egypt, at least thirty centuries before followers of Alexander, who passed with Christ; for the chronicle of that country him out of Bactriana across the Indus, to declares, that its first king, Menes, was the borders of the kingdom of Delhi, of the military order ; but that before his were astonished at the courage, and in- time, (B. C. 2750,) Egypt was governed telligence of these remote nations; and by the gods.* in a panic of fear, suddenly turned back Caste, therefore, had existed in Egypt from conquest, and descending the Indus, for at least a thousand years before the returned to Syria, by the borders of the conquest of India by Sesostris. ocean. The expedition of Alexander The Egyptian soldiery were already, happened in the fourth century before by their nation's law, prohibited interChrist; and although India, since that marriage with the daughters of their period, has been overrun, and repeatedly priests, when they landed on the shores disturbed and dismembered by conquest, of India ; and being the conquerors, and many of its millions converted to they must have been the possessors of Islam, the mass of its population retain the soil :- It is a safe and probable conthe customs and worship of their fathers, jecture, that they were the founders of and are pictured by the moderns, as they the military caste in India. were described by the followers of Alex One third of the cultivated land in ander. All that is peculiar to them as a Egypt was set apart for the gods, and nation seems to have had its origin in divided among the orders of priests; and their institution of Castes, by which they the same would happen in India, to that are separated into four principal, and a colony of priests which, according to great number of subordinate classes. Egyptian custom, must have accompaThe Castes are forbidden to intermarry, nied the army of Sesostris; and these or associate in private, and hold together Egyptians were, as probably, the ancesas a nation, by necessity only, because tors of the modern Brahmins; for there of the division of employments. The is no other conjecture that explains the caste of Soudras cultivate the soil, and similarity of Indian and Egyptian instiperform every thing menial or laborious. tutions. That of Voiskyas, are merchants, tra But the expeditions of Egyptian monders and usurers. The Chastrias were archs, and those particularly of Sesostris, soldiers, landholders and governors from were undertaken in part for the opening their origin; when civil employments, of new channels of commerce; and for the priesthood, and all occupations of the establishment of temples, to be used learning and intelligence, were given to as places of deposit for property left in the Brahmins, and are held by that order, desert and dangerous regions. An oreven to this day.

der of merchants would thence arise, There is proof that the castes of India of Egyptian or Phænician blood, auwere instituted before the tenth century, thorized to trade as king's servants; and B. C.; and reasonable conjecture makes by virtue of their importance to the natheir original at least three centuries tion, and the dangers they underwent, older; for castes are made the basis of second, only in rank, to those of the the ancient Hindoo code, a law which military order who protected and shared was in force throughout India before the their wealth. origin of the sect of Buddhists, (1014, The fourth caste would be composed

* I. e., Hierarchies, or dynasties of the priests, of different gods.

of the conquered aborigines of India, and Egypt, have made these countries a reduced to the condition of political prey to every conqueror; for the mass slaves, without right of property, the of the inhabitants, preyed upon by the common servants of the priests and ru- priests, and looking for protection to a lers; and such, at this moment, is in military caste, were left defenceless, some degree the condition of the Soudras whenever that caste were made indolent of Hindostan.

by the indulgence of a long peace. And That the ancient Hindoos and Egyp- these nations are a proof that the division tians were imperfectly civilized, is evi of occupations, carried to a system, may dent from the absence among them of a utterly ruin and debase the noblest nafifth caste, devoted to civil offices, and to tion. the advancement of legal and liberal Each of the four castes is sub-divided knowledge. Their science and supersti- into a multitude of others, numbering tions were always intimately blended, near a hundred in all. And these lesser and every effort of speculative intelli- castes have each an employment given gence made accessory to despotism and them, and hold precedence of their infepriestcraft.

riors in social rank with as great jealousy Another proof of their barbarism is in as those of high rank. Tinkers will not the degradation of their merchants below intermarry with cobblers ; nor these with their soldiers, as in the feudal nations of menial laborers; nor these with such as Europe. All profitable employments are bury the dead. And in the sub-castes of at this time seized upon by the Brahmins, Brahmins there are the same distinctions, who have become capitalists and land- and the same jealousies, to an excess of holders, to the ruin of the ancient mer- observance, that passes belief. An Hincantile order; and now, over all Hindos. doo must not sit upon the same mat, or tan, a civil, as well as social separation take food, or smoke with one of inferior has taken place between the sacerdotal rank, though it be his own son; for, if and military classes; the soldiery inhabi. be has chosen to marry a wife inferior to ting the sterile and mountainous parts of himself, the children of that marriage canthe interior, and living in the pay of rob- not claim the rank of their father. ber chiefs and Moslems; so that a few The knowledge of rank and pedigree is only, are left in the more populous and a profession of itself, in India; and, like fertile parts, and of these, a few only of the feudal heraldry, has its own literature the pure blood; but the Brahmins pro- and precedents. Persons named Gatakas, sess to have maintained their ancient pu who may be of various rank, and, are rity of caste.

very numerous, make a study of this The Hindoos are a dark-complexioned knowledge, for the sake of negotiating and rather feeble race, with features near marriages. They penetrate the private ly of the European type. Those of milic affairs of families, and know every taint tary rank are often well formed, active of blood, or injury of caste; and by these and courageous; and under good disci means becoming dangerous, as a kind of pline, become excellent soldiers. The secret agents, for the protection or ruin of Brahmins resemble Europeans, but for reputations; and these reputations depend their dark skins; and are said to be the in no sort upon actual worth, but on shrewdest and most imaginative people the strictness of prayers, bathings, abstiin existence. Since their privileges of nences, sacrifices, avoidances of taking commerce and usury have been appro- food or clothes from unclean hands; and priated by Brahmins, the mercantile order upon the care of the citizen to use only those cease to be ranked above the better classes occupations which are proper to his rank. of Soudras. These latter compose the With a thousand of such bars, the life of body of the people, and their numbers, a Hindoo becomes a long deceit, his relicompared with those of Brahmins, are as gion an endless slight penance, A lie is a thousand to one. They occupy the val- expiated by washing; violence by prayer; lies and plains of the great rivers, an to commit murder is death to reputation, abject crowd, living in the extreme of in a Brahmin; but the pure conscience poverty and oppression; stripped of their may suggest another to it, and feel no surplus earnings by priests and soldiers, blame. Forgery is reckoned among veand so spiritless and indolent, their volun- nial faults, and to be concerned for the tary labor is only sufficient to supply multitude is a blameable, if not a criminal Hindostan with the necessaries of life. weakness. The separation of employments, in India The Brahmin, says their ancient law

giver, issued from the mouth of Brahma, life, but in a previous existence; and (the Creator,) and partakes of his divinity; every misfortune or sickness that may he is an object of worship, and at death, afflict them, must be expiated by a prayer if pure, is reabsorbed into the divine es. or a penance, as if it were the sign of sence. The Chastrias came from the guilt incurred by the soul in another hands of Brahma, and have his power; body. This ancient superstition has so they are the defenders of society. The far lost its force, that Soudras will no merchants came from his thighs; and it is longer serve without wages. But even their duty to provide for the sustenance now, their hope is, by penance and selfof men. Soudras are the offspring of torture to enter finally the body of a Brahma's feet; they are laborers, and their Brahmin. The prayer and aspiration of duty is humbly to serve the upper castes, a pious Brahmin, on the other hand, is, to without reluctance and without expecta- escape the body and be again united with tion of reward in this life; their recom the Soul of the World. pense, if pure, will be the new birth of On certain occasions, the Soudra wortheir souls into the body of a soldier or ships the Brahmin, raising the joined Brahmin.* Such is at this day the doc- hands in token of adoration; but the trine, and, as far as nature will permit, Brahmin extends his hand a little space, the practice of Brahminical India. But by only bending the elbow, and the sins under their Moslem and European mas of the Soudra pass into it, and are conters the stricter laws of caste cannot be sumed, as in a fire of expiation. enforced, and the punishment of their The better castes of Soudras have some non-obeisance, has become a mere social education, and are strict religionists, reoutlawry; but this, even, is sufficiently peating frequent prayers for transgression, terrible.

and bathing twice or thrice, in a pool or The Vedas, (their sacred books,) and sacred river, to wash sin away. To this the Institutes of Menu, teem with curses they add the worship of a little image of upon all who violate a tittle of the law of clay, before which the devotee makes caste, or omit any observance of worship prayers, with kneeling, bowing and vaand penance. They name and describe a rious motions and grimaces, to symbolize series of hells, deep below deep, ending a mystical relation between the parts of in unquenchable fire; but these punish- his body and the gods and elements. ments are not eternal, and a gradation is Household godst are set up in a room of is appointed. He, for example, who gives every dwelling; and a pious Hindoo consecrated food to a Soudra, though the will eat no food that has not first been sufferer be his own child, and perishing set before the idol. The most sacred of of hunger, will enter the body of a muck: the household gods is named Shalgrama, worm, after death; but by a series of and is a hollow stone of ferruginous clay, transmigration will again pass into a hu- containing a loose nucleus that can be man form.

shaken, like the kernel of a filbert. The There was anciently an exact division Shalgrama is sacred to Vishnu, (the preof occupations among the castes of Sou- serving deity,) and is made the subject of dras; but by the example of their Moslem a strange legend.

Stones of this figure and English masters, the Hindoos of are brought from the foot of a spur of Bengal are learning to neglect them; not. Himmaleh, where, it is said, Vishnu hid withstanding the authority of their sacred himself while at war with the gods of books.

the mountain, and made these stones for Soudras are the body of the people in hiding places; but the wonder is, that purely Hindoo districts. They are herds- although millions of hollow stones were mens,

farm laborers, artisans and shop- made in the body of the mountain, Vishnu keepers; but not actual slaves. Under was alike present in all. All the castes the ancient law they were incapable of have books of prayer and ceremony proproperty in land, but their ancient re per to themselves, and it is esteemed a ligious sovereigns appropriated certain grievous sin for one of low caste to use a districts, in charity, to their use. The prayer or ceremony proper to a Brahmin. sacred books command them to enslave A Soudra cannot sacrifice, of himself; themselves to pious Brahmins as an act but, if he slays a victim, or throws rice of penance, for sins committed, not in this upon the sacred tire, in monthly offering

* Laws of Menu, translated by Sir William Jones.

† Penates.

« ZurückWeiter »