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licy, in laws and judicial proceedings, in useful and elegant arts, in sciences, and in religious institutions, which he ascribes to that people; and, especially, the high antiquity to which he carries up the reference, have induced many to doubt, and some formally to controvert, the truth of his hypothesis. But, without entering into a question, which, in its intrinsic merits is detached from our present inquiry, it may be sufficient for our purpose to observe, that, admitting the fact (which is indisputable) that the Hindoos have been, at some former period, more highly civilised than they are at present, it is evident they must be a nation susceptible of farther improvement than they now exhibit. Besides, as it is more difficult to restore suspended animation, or reinvigorate a decayed constitution, than to preserve the health and augment the strength of a system which is unimpaired, so, to recal a nation in a retrograde state, to the career of improvement; to renovate a degenerated society; to inspire new life into a languishing people, we may presume, from analogy, must be an attempt peculiarly arduous. Here, then, is an enterprise, which requires the deepest consideration ; an enterprise, which, while it presents an object at once difficult and magnificent, to invite the exertions of genius, also promises to crown success with no common praise. Failure
cannot be dishonourable. The attempt is laudable; and he who sinks in the course, may yet enjoy the consolation of the brave, but too adventurous son of Apollo :
Magnis tamen excidit ausis.
Statistical view of modern Hindostan.
After all, however, the question is not what the Hindoos as a people have been, but what they now are. Their present state is the point from which our inquiries must set out; and it may not be improper, as the ground work of the subsequent plan of improvement, to sketch a brief view of this state, deduced from the most authentic accounts. To do this satisfactorily is no easy task; for, not only are the representations given by different writers on the subject often contradictory, but the same author appears occasionally to be at variance with himself. The following abstract is taken from a comparison of various statements.
The author of the “ Spirit of Laws” has suggested abundant reason for adverting particularly to climate, in accounting for any system of institutions, or devising any scheme of policy. Too much, indeed, may have been ascribed to this cause: yet, as unquestionably it has a mighty influence in forming the character, and determining the condition of
mankind, he who should overlook a circumstance so important, might be justly accused of neglecting one primary object of consideration. The boundary of Hindostan is irregular; and its geographical position cannot be very accurately marked. Situated betwixt the eighth and the thirtyfifth degree of N. lat. the greater part of it lies within the torrid zone; and it might be expected that the heat would be intense, especially as the face of the country is in general level, extensively covered with wastes and forests, and often rendered damp by the inundations of the rivers. These circumstances, however, are counteracted in a considerable degree by other natural causes; particularly by the lofty ridge of mountains bordering on the cold regions of Tartary, and the sea breezes along the coast. Unfavourable and enervating the climate confessedly is, to European constitutions ; but its abundant population shews, that it is not unfriendly to human life, health, or improvement.
many noble rivers, which pour themselves into the ocean by several mouths, and are often navigable, for large vessels, high up their streams. Among these the chief are the Indus, the Kistna, the Burrampooter, and the Ganges. The last is superior in magnitude to any river of the ancient con
tinent; rises to the height of thirty-two feet; overflows its banks to the distance of fifty miles, on either side; runs a course of fourteen hundred miles ; receives many large tributary streams, and is called by Hindoos the “ King of Rivers."
Over Hindostan is scattered an immense, but slightly diversified population. Of the numbers which compose this aggregate, no exact estimate has as yet been made. Some compute them at sixty millions; others conceive that they must amount, at the least, to an hundred millions. Of this enumeration an hundred thousand, according to a well-informed writer, are Mahometans; the rest, Hindoos. While different tribes of the latter inhabit this extensive region, there prevails among them a wonderful uniformity of character and manners. In general, the natives are a mild, inoffensive, unambitious race of men: content with little: careless about futurity: attached to ancient usages : and assiduous, without being either active or enterprising. The Mahrattas, however, who inhabit the central parts, and form one of the principal powers in Hindostan, are of a different character ; being restless, bold, and warlike. The nuniber of British, compared with the great mass of population, is extremely inconsiderable.
India was formerly united in one splendid empire under Government, the Moguls; but, in latter times, has been parcelled out moder among a great number of petty princes, who are the objects of similar regard, and possess similar authority, with the chieftains of ancient Europe. Of these principalities, several are now either subject to the British empire, or in alliance with it. The states of chief consideration, that have maintained their independency, are the Mahrattas and the Seiks. The excellence of the soil will easily account for various Soil, and its
productions. circumstances in the character and history of its inhabitants. Everywhere good, it is, in many places, particularly to the north and west of Bengal, extremely fruitful. The bowels of the earth yield those precious stones, which have been the special objects of human avarice or vanity, from the beginning; the shores of the sea also contribute to augment such envied productions; and the surface of the land is not less remarkable for the abundance and variety of its crops, than for the readiness with which its increase is yielded. Almost without labour, and with still less art, the ground brings forth plentifully.
In a country which has been so often conquered, and is Agriculture. still in a state so unsettled; where the husbandman goes