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forth to the field armed, and is uncertain whether he may reap what he has sown, or what exactions may be made upon him; as no encouragement is given to exertion, so, we might presume, little progress will have been made in the first and most necessary of all human occupations. This is the fact. Nothing can be more imperfect than the state of agriculture throughout Hindostan : nothing more rude and inefficient than the implements used by the husbandman : nothing more aukward and unskilful than his modes of cultivation.
Husbandry, being in a state so rude, the common arts of life, which are in a great measure dependent upon it, must be equally defective. And, amid some magnificent monuments of the architecture of past ages, the huts of the present race are miserable indeed: nor can any contrast be more striking than that which their hovels, scattered amid the ruins of cities once splendid, frequently exhibit. And, if they have attained excellence in any of the other arts, as in weaving and dyeing, their superiority arises, not from greater skill, but from natural advantages.
Though few countries in the world possess greater facilities, and none more abundant materials for commerce, yet no people have hitherto availed themselves less of such en
viable advantages. Foreign trade is carried on exclusively by strangers; and, of internal, there is little beyond what their mutual wants necessarily require. Even this little is transacted often in a way the most aukward and tedious, by barter, or the use of Cowrie shells.
Whatever progress the Indians may have formerly made Elegant arts. in the culture of some of the fine arts, (which appears from authentic documents to have been considerable) they are at present as unskilful in these, as in others of a less dignified character. The same remark may be extended to their proficiency in those sciences, which enlighten the minds, and polish the manners of mankind. Their study of astronomy - Sciences has degenerated into a contemptible, drivelling astrology. The principles, upon which eclipses were anciently computed, are now unknown; the tables and the rules alone remain. All the learning of the times consists in the knowledge of those books, which contain the mysteries of their religion, the precepts of their morality, the institutes of their legislation ; and this is confined to one order of the community, the Bramins; and, among them, to one class, denominated Pundits.
These sacred repositories of science are written in the Seminaries, Shanscrit, a language which has not been spoken for ages
in Bengal, and is known only to a few of the native Literati, and a smaller number of our Countrymen, whom they have at length condescended to instruct in this venerated dialect. Thus, to almost all, this source of information the most envied, is “ a spring shut up, and a fountain sealed.” To compensate, however, in some measure, for this disadvantage, the living languages are comparatively few; and Persian (like Greek in ancient, and Latin in more modern times,) is very generally spoken and understood. Schools · are scattered in different places of the country, but sparingly; and the education is equally scanty. The simple pupils are placed on an open plat around their teacher, who instructs them by draughts, on the sand, on coloured boards, or on leaves of trees, at once to read and to write. The sum and object of their attainments, is to keep accounts, that they may become clerks or factors to Europeans. Of universities they have only three. The most celebrated of these is Benares *, which has been, from time immemorial, the Athens of India, the residence of the most learned Bramins, and the first seat of science. But he who should visit this place, with the hope of contemplating learning in her “mag
* The other two are Tricur and Cangiburam.
nificent abode," must be greatly disappointed, since he would behold these sublime sophists“ slumbering," as a lively writer expresses it, “ in equal ease and voluptuousness."
When the ministers of religion and the teachers of science Morals. exhibit such an example, we may easily conjecture the state of illumination and of virtue among the great body of the people. The Hindoos, though a mild and polished, are yet, intellectually considered, a very uninformed race. Abstemious, because the restraints of their religion, and their extreme poverty, impose temperance; strangers to that ferocity of manners, which marks nations less gentle; they have yet no idea of a morality flowing from the heart, enlightened by principle, and directed to high and pure ends. Many practices, altogether incompatible with personal sanctity, are almost universally indulged. Intoxication, by the use of opium, is not rare : fraud, theft, adultery, perjury, and murder, are common crimes.
The manners of a people at once give to the laws their Legislation. character, and receive from them in return a powerful bias. The Hindoos being a mild, upon the whole a temperate, and a humane people, it was to be expected that their laws would partake of these qualities; and, accordingly, an high
encomium has been bestowed, by able judges, upon the jurisprudence of India. Notwithstanding, their code is by no means perfect; and since, while the country has undergone great changes, this system of legislation still retains its ancient references; since, above all, it establishes that unnatural distribution of society, which has existed, in some other countries, but survives in India alone, it admits of correction and addition, both in relation to general schemes of policy, and to particular details.
Of the Hindoo legislation the most prominent peculiarity is that division of the community into Casts, to which we have just adverted. The whole population is distributed, by this arrangement, into four general classes, besides above eighty subdivisions. Of these the first class consists of the Bramins, who are the ministers of religion, the votaries of science, the teachers of youth. To the second, called Chehteree, are entrusted the government and defence of the state; so that they are its hereditary magistrates and soldiers. Husbandmen and merchants compose the third, denominated Bice or Bannians. And into the fourth are thrown all the inferior orders of society, artisans, labourers, and servants, under the designation of Sooder. Besides these original and superior ranks of society, there are two adventi