nas

.tons

of

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t

loos

By

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

AT LOS ANGELES

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SKETCHES OF THE MYTHOLOGY AND CUSTOMS OF THE HINDOOS r LONDON: PRfNTED IN THE YEAR MDCCLXXXr. .

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July. London. GEORGE FORSTER. 354590 .SKETCHES OF THE MYTHOLOGY AND CUSTOMS OF THE HINDOOS. MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED TO THE HONORABLE THE OF COURT DIRECTORS OF THE EAST-INDIA COMPANY. 1785. BY THEIR DUTIFUL SERVANT.

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which has been ex~ traced from private letters. from a defire of throwing fome light on a fubjeB. hitherto. and alfo y with the view of promptdifpofition ing others. to To hold out an afylum to the memory of an antient. enlarge on fo curious a matter. but partially known in Europe-. who before . the Author is induced to lay before the Public. whofe bent of and conveniency of fituation may lead them into fuch refearches. and a once the fall great people.CT* HE following curfory dif- fertation.

of their empire were amply en- lightened by fclence. will yield a compenfatlon to the fufficlent man of philan- thropy. which had the moji falutary effe&s In rendering them virtuous and happy. . be feared. for every difficulty that he may encounter In the purfult of a It Is to Jludy which will be found. entangled In Jome dif~ couraging perplexities. and who were governed by a fyftem of laws and policy.

with any degree of Jprecifion. cofily buildings. and its number of the firft inhabitants. 1782* city of Banaris. hi point of -the its wealth.ExtraB of a Letter^ dated at Banaris in September. is clafled in rank of thofe now feffion of remaining in Hiriduftanj the Hindoos* in the pof^ To defcribe. the various temples dediplace to the almoft in- cated in this B numerable .

to the generality But as fome relation. at this day.* are not able to throw on them clear fufficiently for the rendering them comprehenfible of the people. that even thofe Pundits Ikilfully verfed in who are the mod lights the Sumfcrit. with the origin neceflary arrangement. in the myfterious of the Hindoo mythology. enveloped in fuch impenetrable obfcurity.numerable deities. would require fuperior rites a knowledge. perfec~l. They are. Europe . infinitely to mine. of a city fo though imfamous in Hin- du flan. * . and to explain the of their foundation. and now fo well known iij The language in which all their facred le* gcnds are preferred.

If errors fhoiild arife on the treat- ing on a matter hitherto nightly difcufTed. the tafk fhall be attempted with every attention to the fubje6t. 2 At . you will give me fome commendation were it only for the endeavour of admmiftering to a rational pleafure. and from its complication ex- ceedingly abftrufe.( 3 ) Europe for having been one of the of the religious worihip grand fources of the Hindoos. and with the ftri&eft adherence to truth. and being the chief repofitory of what fcience yet exifts among them. invefligations unacceptable together with fome curfory of the mythology of Brimha. and that though miftaken in my conclufions. I have to intreat your liberal indulgence . may not be to you.

or the God Eifhwer. pile. on fuch facred ruins. which were erected by the order of Aurungzebe. the eye is attra6led by the view of two lofty minarets. If .( 4 ) At the diftance of eight miles it is from the city of Banaris. as approach- ed on the river from the eaftward. would appear to have been prompted to the mind of Aurungzebe by a bi- gotted and intemperate defire of iniulting their religion. The from look raifing. dedicated to the Mhah Deve. this towering its Mahometan which elevated height feems to exalta- down with triumph and tion on the fallen (late of a city fa profoundly revered by the Hindoos. on the foundation of an ancient Hindoo temple.

which oc- cupies a fpace of about two miles and bank of the a half along the northern Ganges. and the worihip of $:heir gods defiled. and a mile inland from the liver. them having fix. and built of a flone refembling that fort found in the quarries .( 5 ) it If fuch was his \viih. and as proclaiming to every ftranger. fulfilled. hath been moft completely For the Hindoos confider this mo- nument foreign as a difgraceful record of a yoke. that their favorite city has been debafed. the top of the minarets there From is feen an entire and a very beau- tiful profpect of Banaris. Many and feven of the houfes are remark- ably high. fome of ftories.

( ries 6 ) of Portland. are fo narrowas not to breaft. and fevere bilious pb- Jn addition to this pernicious feb. The ftreets. that the air. and which abounds in this part of the country. becomes putrid and The obnoxious. admit of two carriages a- confequence of this large city being conflructed on fo confined a plan. from being deprived of a free circulation. which from the many tanks difperfed in the different . is. proceeding from a corrupted mofphere. wherein thefe lofty buildings are fituated. and in par- ticular feafons caufes fevers of a ma- lignant fpecies. there is ef- at- at moft times an arifes intolerable flench.

deflroyed effects the pleafing which fymmetry would otherwife have and arrangement beftowed on a city. The irregular and very confined invariably ad- mode which has been hered to in the conftruction of Banaris. in a great meafure. has. entitled from its numerous and expenfive habitations.C 7 ) ferent quarters of the town. and there left expofed. whofe waters and borders are appropriated to the common filth ufe of the inhabitants. (for the Hindoos poffefs ral but a fmall portion of a genecleanlinefs) add to the compound ill of fmells which fo much offend the noftrils of every one entering this city. ^ to . The alfo. which is indifcri^ minately thrown into the ftreets.

( 3 ) to demand I which In any have feen in India* refearches a preference to capital the which I have been enabled to make intb the principles of the Hindoo religion. . with the Sumfcrit* ufe of this laft tongue is The no\v chiefly confined to a particular feet of BraminSj who officiate in it the cha- racter of priefts. Sumfcrit its is a fonorous lanflow with great periods boldnefs. and an acquaintancej though trivial. I have received great aid from a converfant knowledge of the Mhahrattah language. and hath ever been adopted as the channel of conveying to the Hindoos. the gion. with all their worfhip. eflentials of their reli- the various forms of The guage.

( bolclnefs. Petache renewan fhetroS Father in debt enemy reihelenee immoral Mat ah Mother fhetroo enemy -extravagaht or Bhariah rupewuttee Wife beautiful llietroo enemy Pootre llietroo n'punditah Son unlearned enemy ' C The . a ftriking teftimony of the nervous compofition. and the laconic turn of the Sumfcrit. Halhed. 9 ) and terminate and it in a cadence peculiarly mufical. will infert and alfo attempt the tranflation. As I it is a ftanza of only four lines. abounds in a pith and concifenefs far fuperior to any other. with which I am in any wife acquainted. which has been quoted by Mr. An is extracl: of a floke or flanza. it.

foft joys oft' thorns implant. in their firft and the Deity. without beginning on they beftow. A bride's And he. in folly's haunt. The Hindoos believe in one whom But the moft common appellation. to profufe. adgrand ^application to drefs him as endowed with the three attri- . fenfe and which conveys the fublimeft of his greatnefs. The Hindoos. who roams Destroys his father's reft. defcriptive of his power. and foe fhamc. God. Sree Mun Narrain. the univerfal Prote&or. Are to their race a peft.( '0 ) The mother who The fire hath loft her fame. a variety of epithets. and without end . is.

<

II

)

attributes, of omnipotence, omnipre-

fence

and omnifcience
are

;

which,

in

by the terms, neer anjin, neer akar, and neer
the Sumfcrit,
exprefied

goon.

Though

this explanation

may

not,

comprife in it of the Englifh the precife meaning
in literary ftri&nefs,
text,
it

doth fo virtually, and in the

ampleft fenfe.

A circumftance which forcibly flruck
my
attention,

was the Hindoo

belief

of a Trinity.

The
rain,
tiful

.perfons are,

Sree

Mun

Nar-

the

Mhah Letchimy

(a beau-

woman), and

a Serpent,

which
and

are emblematical of ftrength, love

wifdom.

C

2

Thefc

Thefe perfons, by the Hindoos, are
fuppofed to be wholly
indivifible.

The
one.

one

is

three,

and the three arc

In the beginning they fay, that the Deity created three men, to whom he
gave the names of Brimha, Vyftnou,

and Shevah.*

To

the

firft,

was committed the
to the
to the

power of creating mankind, fecond of cheriihing them, and
them,

third that of reft raining and correcting

Brimha,

at

one breath, formed the

human

kind out of the four elements ;
as I

amongft which he infufed,

un-

derflood the intrepretation, a vacuum,
* Qften
called Eifhwer, or the

Mhah

Deve.

Before

(

'3

)

Before

the creation

of man, Sree

Mun

Narrain framed the world out
;

of a chaos

it

was covered with the
utter dark-

waters, furrounded by an
nefs,

and inhabited by a demon, the
evil,

fuppofed author of

whom

the

Godhead drove into an
earth.
-

abyfs under the

The

Hindoos, as Mr. Halhed, in his

Tranflation of the

Code of Hindoo
clearly fet forth,

Laws, has

fully

and

are arranged in four
.tribes*
;

grand

calls

or

that

of the

Bramin,

the

Chittery, the Bhyfe
* There
is,

and the Sooder.
an aboriginal race of

in India,

not clafled in any of the fefts, people and are employed in the meaneft and mofl meare
nial offices.

who

They

are

not permitted to enter

any temple of the Hindoos, and in their diet On fome parts of the they have no reftrition.
coaft of Choromandel they are called Pariahs^ and, in Bengal, Hurrees.

Each

Each of into thefe cafts are fub. From the beft information which I have been enabled to procure. and in its place a fpurious tribe has been introduced. compofing thefe cafts and clafles. Hindoos. There is an immenfe number of fe&aries of the fame tribe. the one deno- minated . it would feem that the genuine Chittery. or of eating at the fame board. are ultimately branched The but in two divifions.divided fe6is. numerous the particular preferred with ufages of which are great care and attentive diftin&ions. or Rajah race. who do not admit of the intercourfe of marriage with each other. has for a great length of time been extinct.

and thofe of the fecond with a parallel line. and denotive of the velocity of his motion. or as he is ufually called by the Hindoos. is on which he frequently placed in front of his image. ( having a circle of heads and four hands. The bird. Shevah or Eifhwer. In the temple of Vyftnou. emblems of an allfeeing.( '5 > minated the Vyftnou Bukht. reprefentation is of a fabulous fuppofed to ride. The followers of the firft are dif- tinguifhed by marking the forehead with a longitudinal. heisworfhipped under the reprefentation of a human figure. the Mhah . and an all-provident Being. and the other the Shevah Bukht.

or great God. The more enlightened Pundits tell you. faid to which have derived its peculiarly facred qualities from having been chofen by as his favorite this god conveyance. . is generally feen.Mhah Deve. and defigned as fymbols of procreation and fecundity. Thefe held faculties or qualities being amongfl the Hindoos as the choked bleflings. and the deprivation of them deemed a fevere reproach and misfortune. in a fuppliant pofture. cribing the male and female parts of generation. that this animal hath been preferved from (laughter from its great utility . is repredef- fented by a compound figure. the image of a cow. Facing this defignation of the Mhah is Deve.

would fuffer an efTential in- Another figure reprefents SheVah dif* five with four hands (holding in them ferent emblems of . it being his ableft af^ field* t fiftant in the labors of the and' the chief fupport in his immediate maintenance* Not facred a to fay that it argues a found policy to ftamp this creature with fo mark . as Hinduftaii is productive of but few horfes. D After . his po\ver) and heads four of which are directed fifth i to the cardinal points. for were its fleih eaten. and the placed with the face Upwards* in the act of contemplating the grand Peity.utility to man . the various branches of agri- culture jury.

that his praife for the obligations which mankind have received gree. to infert in this place. It I is a tale framed to amufe the cre- dulous Hindoo. nor have they fet apart or {an&ified one day in remembrance of his deeds. it would fbnably be concluded. But the Hindoos have not dedicated one temple to his honor. and procure a meal ta an artful rricfl. for this feeming neglect of Brimhah. at his hands. the reafon alledgcd in their religious tracTs. in fome deto his would be conformable works. This .After the fervice which Brimhah rea- has performed on earth. It would redound but were I little to my credit.

there was no firfl neceflity of commemorating the individual caufe. may on a more to abftraeted ground be attributed the opinion. yet The firfl. confoling them in every misfortune. and frequently cramps the genius and obftrufts its progreffjon. untoward events of P z They . and admi- niilering to them a comfort in all the life. that the powers of procreation having been once fet in action. The Hindoos tion of the fouh believe implicitly in in the tranfmigra- predeflination. ral and operating by a law. gene- and undeviating. as it has a tendency in. \vhofe immediate^ benefits exifts and are evidently difplayed in its effects.( '9 ) This to the oftenfible want of attention memory of Brimhah.

The do&rine reflrains of the metempfychofis life them from the ai} of animal food* . aliment not neceflary.They directs fay it is the hand of God. and the Bramins of Bengal invariably eat The . and to inculcate the virtues of humanity a general affe&ion. occafionally ufe flefh meats. and often attended with pernicious confe* quences in a hot climate. This belief has alfo a ftrong ten* 4ency to infufe into their minds an abhorrence of all fanguinary a els. \vhich for fome infcrutinable purpofe and impel? the actions of his creature. * TJiis tenet is not at this day ftriftly adhered cafl {o. for the Hindoos of the fecond and fourth fifh.

prefent. they fay. The Khullee.age.- brazen. of which have four. which has been recreated at the commencement of the one fucceeding. filver. and abound rela- throughout in fuch extravagant tions . and iron ages of the antients^. teem fo profufely with fable. - The records of this ancient and ex- traordinary people. is .The Hindoos compute they their grand evolutions of time by Joques. unfortunately for the learned of the prefent day. the or the fourth Joque and that at the expiration of every. the Supreme Being has deftroyed this globe of earth. fucceffion of Joques will revolve ad infoiitum. correfponding ki- th eir nature with the golden. and that a continued.

by Brimbah. ::.'. - a word 4^J i 1*. -"i . were compofed.J - * ' An hundred thowfand. Ic~. .* i$ . greatly fimilar in their feats to the Bac- chus.. with mod eflentiai tenets.'. . and comprized in four books.. iigmfymg . A Pundit will introduce into his legend a laack* of years with as facility. r . entitled the Baids or Yaids. . it is aflerted.. and Thefeus of the Greeks. Hercules.tions of the actions of their demi-gods. 10 a v--^ iu iioLbaucA reli- The principles of the its Hindoo gion. that no rational or fatis- factory conclufion can be drawn for any adjuftment of chronology. "..'j'4.-iv.< . much and perhaps as conviction to himfelf. a modern commentator to his ftandard half a would reduce century.

tre From the Shaf- proceed thofe prepoflerous and irreconcileably fuperftitious ceremonies which have been dragged by their doctors . The Telingahs and commonly change the the Malabars letter B all into a V. is a voluminous commentary on the moft The Baids .fignifying myftery in the Sumfcrit language. and has been written by various Pundits. thefe facred writings are named the Vaidums. meaning fcience. In that part of the peninfula of India bordering on the Choromandel fide. for the purpofe of illuftrat- ing their mythology. and invariably terminate fcrit words with an M. Sum- Shaftre.

and prohibited under fevere penalties from the infpe&ion of the other cafts.. all of them tending to fhao kle the vulgar mind. By the liberty fole inveflment of this finpriefl is gular authority. The privilege of reading the Baids and expounding its texts is only allowed to them. - In the tranfmigration of the foul into different bodies.dolors into the Hindoo fyflem of worfhip . the to left at explain the original doc- trine as may be the moft conducive in confolidating the power and promoting the interefts of his order. confifts the vari- ous . and produce in it a flavifh reverence for the tribe of Bramins.

Evil difpofitions. the infliction and fhudder at the idea of a belief fo difconfonant to the opinion which they have form- ed of the Supreme Being. whilft in the occupation of their former tenements. as by their conduct. they fay. Conformably to their good or actions they are evil tranfpofed into the bodies of fuch creatures. are chaftifed by a confinement in the bodies of thofe animals whofe natures they moft referable* and are conftrained to occupy them until their vices are either E eradicated. whether of the human or brute fpecies. they may have merited. They do not admit of of eternal puniiliment.( 25 ) ous gradations of reward and puniih* ment amongft the Hindoos. .

The man who fight *Ly i'lji is acceptable in the of his God. the Hindoo fays. or fo purged as that they ihall be judged worthy^ -of poffeffi-ng fuperior forms. will . of the unfortunate. that high fenfe of pleafure which the nity man of humawhen he has alleviated partakes of. will be rewarded by their being made to perfonify fuch beings as enjoy the utmofl human happinefs.< 26 ) eradicated. The good actions of man. or. the Hin- doo law-giver has written. As that which the magiftrate experiences on the juft and merciful exe- cution of the truft which has been committed to him . or welfare the diftrefTes otherwife promoted the of mankind.

defcribed. from a purfuit of virtue. which are produced dif- from the well performance of the ferent duties of life. The is foul's receiving this act ofblifs. purified from the taints of is the Hindoo then admitted to participation of the radiant and never ceafing glory of his firft caufe. attracted by the grand powers of the fun. Yum Durm Rajah officiates in the fame capacity amongft the Hindoos. E 2 as . and there abforbed in the blaze of fplendor. by comparing it to a ray of light. fhall be evil. After having occupied a feries of bodies to the approbation of the Deity and his foul.will copioufly imbibe all thofe heartfelt fatisfactions. to which it is fhoots with an immenfe velocity.

has at nine . is afterwards placed in forne fuitable ftation on earth.as Minos did in the infernal regions of the antients. Should the difpofition of a been fo flagitioufly man have wicked and de- praved. fuch corporeal tor- ments are impofed on him and the foul as may be thought adequate to the tranfgrefiion. Sree Muii ^Narrain. who pafTes an immediate fentence. as to be judged unworthy even of an introduction into the body of the vilefl animal. their actions are proclaimed aloud this judge. fmce the creation of the world. According to the religious traditions of the Hindoos. At and by the tribunal of Yum Durm. all departed fouls are fuppofed to appear.

Let this mode of offering up fupplications * A krore is a hundred laacks. or othenvife chaftifmg the fins of mankind. worfhip a fecondary reckon at which they wildly the number of the thirty- three krore*. . or adorers of many gods. they have been branded with the appellation of idolaters. and who in their diffe- rent functions are defigned to reprefent the multiplied infinitude of power of the Supreme Deity. From the croud of images which the Bramin has placed in the temples of the Hindoos.'( 29 ) nine different periods afTumed incarnated forms for the purpofe of eradicating fome particular evil. The Hindoos fpecies of deity.

..( 3 ) plications or thankfgivings to the Su- preme Being be difpaflionately examined. adorned with every fymbol of human clafles power. fculptured by contemplating a with many heads and with many hands. are not endowed with the ability of read- ing the praife of God.. is not unfitly adapted to the general comprehenfion. can with facility conceive an idea of his greatnefs. who.. . and beheld by all of men with the utmoft reve- rence and awe. figure. Deity.fo the origin *?. that a perfonification of the attributes of the. For want of the requifite education. Were of emblematical figures deduced with a pofitive degree of . and it may be feen. from a thofe. - /?/ ?/r. and they compofe a great portion of the people.:~fo'..

preceded the ufe of that they far letters. gifted of Hindoo gods are which they with from drinking a beverage. was defcribed to Motezuma by figures painted on cotton cloth. it In a rude fociety. and out of it compofe an afTemblage of words neceflary for the formation of a lan- guage.( 3' ) little of certainty. called . was evidently a a more eafy operation to convey an idea thro* the medium of or fimple in clay. The immenfe group enjoy immortality. that of the firft the intelligence arrival of the Europeans on the coaft of Mexico. there would remain doubt of difcovering. figure cut in wood moulded than to invent an alphabet. The Spanifh records mention.

the God who has of a variety of epithets.( 3* ) called Amrut. His common names are Kaum and Mudden. in the nature of their provinces. there is an elegant defcription of nine goddefTes. all fignificant the unbounded fway. which he poffeffes over the hearts of men. and he is reprefented as a pleafmg youth. each of which weapon baited with different qualities of the poifon. refembling in a great degree the mufes of the antients. and which feems to bear fome analogy to the nectar of Homer's deities. delineated. denoting the is five fenfes. In their mythology. mofl pi&urefquely of Love. There is alfo. armed with a bow and five arrows. which is .

there in ftone of the in a chariot a defign well executed God of the Sun. In the Bifs is Eifhwer Pagoda at Banaris. when riding the fort was captured. A of curious picture was found at Tanjore. fhould lead on any If the perufal of this F gentleman. Kaum on an elephant. allufive of the twelve figns of the Zodiac. which were entwined together in fo ingenious and whimfical a manner.( is 33 ) infufed by the communication of tke paflion of love. rough and abbreviated fketch. . that they exhibited an exact fhape of that bulky animal. whofe form was compofed of the figures of feven young women. fitting and driving a horfe with twelve heads.

. holy legends of the Cophe would fee the Snake. placed high tis . one of the . I {hall deem the trivial labour undergone in this refearch. or moulding to the fhape of his fyftem the generally unfatisfactory and deceitful aids of chro- nology.( 34 ) this part of gentleman eftablifhed in the country. and pofleffing an inclination to this caft of inveftigation. Without putting etymological proofs to the torture. difcover the facred or the in the Cow of Shevah. There he would Bull. to profecute a farther and a more minute inquiry into the principles of the Hin- doo religion. the careful obferver might be enabled to trace fome points of the religious worfhip of the Hindoo into Egypt. as moft amply compenfated.

is fo ftrongly incul- and with a few deviations. F 2 On . on which a matter of confe- quence depends. the Bramin frequently introduces the Onion to render the ceremony more awful. that the would Oni- on fo frequently mentioned by hiflori- ans and travellers. though the ufe of a vegetable diet. as an hieroglyphical emblem of wifdom and It longevity. in the upper part of India. priefts and. is no lefs marked with reverence in Hin- duftan. comis monly adopted. when an oath. alfo appear. the Onion bidden to fome of the feels of for. where.( 55 ) the myfterious affociates of Sree Mun Narrain. as held in profound veneration amongft the Egyptians. cated. devoutly revered by that nation. is adminiftered.

it might group of the weftern pantheon. thro' the The channel of the Red Sea. induced to believe. many tokens behind them of their connection with Hindoos. in the fame point of view. and the forms of worlhip of the Hindoos. had been felecled from the divine afTembly of be found that the celeflial Brimhah. and were is which it poffible to procure a defcription of the occupations and the various powers of the Hindoo fubaltern gods. with thofe of the ancients. In . a Jftrong uniformity of like- not unreafonably placed nefs. I am the. have left. Egyptians and the Greeks in their commerce with India.( 36 ) On comparing the religious tenets. there appears in the functions of fome of the deities.

in a ftyle bearing every terly cut mark of a maf- hand. Hercules flaying the Nemean Lion. The fame gentleman had feiiion in his pof- a Medufa's head. which he fent to England. was executed in a mofh beautiful and finking manner. fome years ago. a very high finifhed cameo. There was procured at Guzerat. found alfo at Banaris. merchants of that one of which. whereon. on which Cleopa- There tra is is exhibited in the act of being bitten by the afp. there are feveral valuable antiques. another. and it has there been acknowledged to be genuinely Greek. which he purchafed of the city.( 37 ) In the collection of a gentleman at Banaris. is reprefenting a Grecian matron. Thefe 354590 . on an eme- rald.

certain tenets and ceremonies rare of the Hindoo mythology. empire. in need of illustration. that during the intercourfe which exifted between the natives of Egypt and of India.Thefe circumftances are adverted to with fome fhew of evincing. . that they might have found their way into that country in the cabinets of fome of the MufTulman conquerors who. I muft not omit mentioning. with the and luxurious products of Hinduftan. In confidering of the tract by which thefe antiques were brought into India. Romans no and it is a fact. in the more early period of their . were as fiaftic warm and as as enthu- admirers of Greek productions ever the and were literature . the former might have in- troduced into their country.

I Haroun ul Rachid. with its twelve figns. after Rome had been fwallowed up in Gothic ruin. that I at in that fcience. The . beftowed on the feven and they have days. it flouriihed in the The is Zodiac. com- mencing the week with Sunday. previoufly to the asra in which weflern world.( 39 ) illuftration. long. that the revival of letters and the arts. am fincerely to lament that is my very knowledge in aflronomy fo am almoft wholly infrom defcribing the attaincapacitated ment which the Bramins had arrived confined. well known to them . received the moft potent aid from the Arabian Kaliph. the names of the planets.

( 40 ) The folar year of the Hindoos con- fabs of twelve hundred and months. the Wain. for the inclufion of thofe days which are wanting to compleat the exact fpace of time required earth in by the making its tion round the fun. and once in three years they annex an additional month. or The . triennial revolu- The culated days of the month are calfull is from the period of the moon. making three fixty days. and the number of them divided into two equal parts. or filling . they term Bole. they give the name of Sood. and the other. To in the the portion of days comprized increafmg half of the moon.

as are unaccom- panied with that redundancy of fable. mod G Their . Could accefs be gotten to fuch re- cords of the Hindoos. in the more early age of the world. that we fhould difcover they were. one of the enlightened and powerful nations then inhabiting the face of the earth. with which their priefts have fo coit pioufly interwoven them. would not be prefumptuous to fuppofe. The obfervatory at Banaris is an un- deniable proof of the knowledge which the Hindoos have acquired in the motions of the celeftia! bodies.( 41 ) The Jogue is divided into luftra of twelve years. each of which is diftinguifhed by its peculiar denomination.

and with fumptuous manfions. and from the confines of Affam and Arracan to the river Indus. gardens and fountains for . whofe kingdom extended from the fouthern borders of Tartary to the iiland of Ceylon. mately governed by one ruler. It abounded in fair and opulent cities.( 42 ) Their empire. which were decorated with magnificent and lofty temples for the worfhip of the gods. each exercifing different funcall tions and occupations. This immenfe territory was inhabited by a people divided into four diftmct tribes. and uniting in their various branches to promote a general good. their hiftorical as related in tracls. many of of ulti- confuted fifty-fix feparate principalities.

Halhed. that a well chofen fyftem of equitable regulations G 2 directed . Ufeful and ildlled in elegant artifans.. the curious workmanfhip of precious (tones and metals. well their various trades.( 43 ) for the pleafure and accommodation of the people. all found ample encourageexercife ment in the of their feyera! were almoft fuperfluons to fay. in the fabricating gold. filver. feen. delicate and the moft and in cotton cloths. Hindufhm muft have been governed by falutary and well digefted laws. in the raifmg ftupendous buildings. From the tranflation of the code it is by Mr. that if fome glaring indulgences in It favor of the facred tribe are excepted.

( 44 ) punifli-' dire&ed the Hindoos in the ment of crimes. was obliged to. and for the fecurity of property. its polifted peo- and the progrefs which art and fcience . with a pond or a well pertaining to it. the diftricl: in which the damage. When ple. this empire. and could produce a teftimony of his lofs. The traveller was enabled to jour- ney through this extenfive empire with an eafe and fafety unknown in other countries* The trees . public roads were {haded with at every halting place a caravan- fera. had been fuftained make reftitution. and fhould he in any part of the country have been pillagecl. was founded for the conveniency of the pafTenger.

naturally. in the more early periods they. when. yet of life. however far the weftern nations have. that. in improvements and re- finement. are attentively confidered and reflected on . we muft be- hold Hindu ft an with a wonder and refpecl:. immerfed or only immerging out of ignorance and barbarity. be impreiTed with a fenfe of forrow who have fallen from . and pity for a people will. certainly did poflefs valu- able materials of philofophy fnl knowledge. without forfeiting a claim to truth and mode- ration. a is re- trofpective ilates view thrown on the then of the European world. in. and we may aflert.( fcience 45 ) have made aiongft them. outftripped the followers of Brimhah. at the fame periods. and ufe- The humane mind.

that we did endeavour to exhibit a view of the fituation in which thefe people were placed before they were conquered by the victorious followers of Mahomed. To form a fatisfactory judgment of the genius of the Hindoos. the degree to it which they were raifed art if and fcience. perhaps. were the partial A government and manners. . and a very degrading relation would be made of them. with a due accuracy. the necefTary ma- terials could be procured. have contributed to polifh and exalt the very men who now hold them in fub- jeclion. requifite. or to de^ fcribe. and who.( 46 ) from fo confpicuous a height of glory . taken from the appearance defcription of their laws.and fortune.

They manacred the priefts arid plundered the temples.( 47 in ) ance they make the eye of world at this day. empire of Hinduftan was oVorthrown by a fierce face of men. mufl foon have the fpirit of fci- ence and the exertion of genius. with a fpecies of keennefs and ferocity. and dif- mayed at the fight of loft fuch cruelties. Particu* . A people thus crufhed. groaning tinder the load of oppreffion. in levelling every monument of worfhip and tafte. might have gloried in. himfelf. exerted the moft ftrenuous efforts. who in their The furious courfe of conqueft. which theif prophet.

The difquifition of the man of philanthropy. which . or affix the character of the Hindoo.( 48 ) Particularly. he will enjoy an in heart-felt pleafure contributing his aid to- wards difpelling the mortifyng cloud. as their fine arts were fo blended with the fyftem of religion. that the perfecution of the one muft have (hed the moft baneful influence on the exiftence of the other. To decide on. will be far different . and who has fhaken off the fetters of prejudice. from the point of view in which he is now beheld. rials from the mate- now prefented by that wretched country. would be in fome degree tantamount to an attempt of conveying to the mind an exact idea of antient Greece.

It will and their bent of difpofition fo aptly- regulated and attempered by the rules eflablifhed for the performance of their feveral occupations fions. whether from motives of contempt or habits of indolence. hiftory This candid inveftigator will carry him back which to that aera of grandeur his country enjoyed in her day of profperity. and there hold for the infpe6Hon him out and information of of mankind . have acquired but a trivial and a very incorrecl: know- ledge of this antient people. then be feen. the generality whom. and profefenter- that we are forcibly induced to H . that the genius of the Hindoos was fo happily led on.( 49 ) which hath long inveloped the of the Hindoo.

one feel: and wholly precluded any from infringing on the privi- leges of another.( 5 ) entertain a mod refpeclable opinion of the equity of their laws and the wif- dom of their government. A idea precifion. The Bramin. through which the three infeGod . and difpenand to his care and abirepoiitory lity was intrufted the education of youth. The . which eradicated the of an error. invefled with un- power in all matters of rehe became the invariable me- rior claries addrefled their alfo fer dium. was controlable ligion . prefcribed to them and their refpective duties in the ftate in fociety. he was the fole of fcience.

function of royalty feems to have devolved. without a referve. where the attaining a knowledge of the mode of worfrom its ihip inexpreflible variety of ceremony. The authority of exercifmg every . becomes a tafk of arduous labor.The importance in a at of thefe offices muft have given to the Bramin great fway community. ftriclly and he was engaging in prohibited from any temporal concern. and where at the fame time it is deemed an obligation indifpenfably incumbent on the Hindoo for his fu- ture welfare. that he be well verfed in the performance of the rites of his religion. on the H 2 Chitteiy . Thefe employments were judged of fufficient magnitude to occupy the fludy and attention of the Bramin.

fions and his poflef- were held hereditary in the line of legitimate male primogeniture. and each of thefe refpective . the Common foldier and the labourer. and it was declared unlawful for the other tribes to engage in any branch of commerce.( 5* ) Chittery or Rajah. occupation of a merchant. The the traffic. compofed the fooder. with of every fpecies of tranfac~lion was delivered over to the Bhyfe or Baniam. The younger had commands branches of this race in the army beftowed on them. The hufbandman. or the fourth caft of the Hindoos. and they were commonly entrufted with the charge of the forts and the ftrong holds of the country. the artifan.

the Hindoo government acquired an uniformity and a vigor. Thus diftin&ly arranged and on the fevereft penalties. the natural refult of ciples. it may then become a matter of doubt.( 53 ) refpeclive profefllons ft was flrongly guarded again encroachments. very perceptible traces of which prefent themfelves. interdicted from any extraneous mixture or the admiffion of profelytes. which people for the greateft fpace of time have been the moft polifhed and enlightened. its happy prin- Were an analogy afcertained between the mythology of the Hindoos and the Egyptians. From the adductions which I have brought forward. for the explanation of .

has a fatisfactory afforded me proof of the high antiquity of the Hindoos. and for the general demonftration of the antiquity of that nation. it may appear to you. that I maintain the doctrine of Egypt's having received a portion of her flock of fcience and religion from India. but without the prepofTefled de- termination of fabricating a fyftem and adapting to it partial its arguments. as a civilized nation. and marks the rtrongefl . that I am a fol- lower of the belief. With a deference to popular opi- nion. I cautioully felected for will confefs to you. amongfl fome others. fupport. One fact.( 54 ) of fome of the moft eflential tenets of the mythology of the Hindoos.

therefore. as to the pofitively reject admiflion of profelytes. forfeit their rank in the It is tribes they may beclafled in. under this refraction. and in the flricl: fenfe of their religious law. the dialects name of which. a diftant would have emigrated into country. They many nifies are forbidden to crofs the river Attoc. Let . and bring from thence a fyftem of religious worihip. prohibition. in fig- of their language. they are immediately held unclean. not. and fhould they pafs this boundary. reafonable to fuppofe that any part of a people.( 55 ) ftrongeft difapprobation of any foreign intercourfe. and who feem to have been fo centred in themfelves.

but partial diftributions of this knowledge. to entertain we are led that a fuppofition lefTer the proprietors of the plied have been fup- from the fources of the greater fund. obferve. amongft other Afiatic nations. and fefled a who religious creed. and at the fame time. If the pofitions which I have ftated. for the prote&ion improvement of fociety. and the Egyptians of former times. whofe tenets confifl of the utmoft refinement and variety of ceremony. are thought to convey reafon. that When we fee a people who were poflefled of fcience an ample flock of and well and pro- digefled rules. they will afford greater pleafure to the man of curious .( 56 ) Let me conclude this comparative review with obferving. law and religion.

called Joquees or Byraghees. 1 They . but it is not a nu- merous one. ligious deemed a re- duty of an indifpenfable napropagating in that ftate. that fpecies entitles parents to fingular marks of divine favor* * This word. and when this rule from. it is confidered as an indecency. which are often framed as they may moft commodioufly accord with fome favorite .( 57 ) curious ftudy than thofe unfubftantial and confufed chronological proofs. The Hindoos in the Sumfcrit language. live in a ftate of celibacy. fies pleafure. Hypothecs* Amongft the Hindoos. iigniin common ufage is have but one wife. aiid it is believed. a fet deviated There is who of mendicants. ture . marriage*^ xvhen it can be performed with any is degree of conveniency.

mu ft be largely afcribed. and from fligma being affixed on the non-obedi- ence to it. and its fpeedy recovery after the calamities of war and famine. I may fay. that when have frequently oba Hindoo has been afked if he was a married man.( 53 ) They {hew a difapprobation of celibacy by many marks of opprobrium and fcorn . he has appeared difconcerted. The . which is fo a flrongly recommended. It is to this inftitution. and. and ailiamed at the fac~l obliging him to anfwer in the negative. I ferved. and immediately attri- buted the caufe of his fituation to fome particular misfortune. even enforced that the generally great population of Hinduftan.

as well as for the mere ordinary accommodations of life. out of which arife effects the molt happy in themfelves. From the the eftabliihed laws and ufage of the country. the wife depends for enjoyment of every pleafure. caput 2 mortuum. and operative in uniting the powerfully leading bonds of fociety. his devolves into a I wife. On the demife of the hufband. on the immediate exiflence of her hufband. . yet a fimple bafis. is entire fyftem of the domeftic ordinances and ceconomy of the Hin- founded on a ftrong. literally. and her happinefs is abfolutely centred on his living to an old age. It becomes her invariable intereft to preferve his health.( 59 ) The doos.

and the Jo. and diverted of every distinction. nies not lawful for her to perform and. {he is deprived of is confequence in the family. oh all occafions. is held un- but. mark of ornament and There are certain religious ceremo. and is oftentimes carried to an extreme. the widow is daffed in the houfe as a Have.( 60 ) inortuum. after her hu {band's death. fhe clean . rather than fuffer this gradation. by is female attraction which every extinguifhed. women themfelves reduced to the weft degree of mortification. Amongft the three firft cafts of Hindoos. or a menial fervant. in fome inftances. on the pretence . where the idea of honour is more refined. {he cannot all marry again.

ginate yet as in iflue of fuch a refolution forcibly affect the feelings of it hu- would appear to ori- a principle.( 6' ) pretence of matrimonial affection. it Con- . and that her progeny will become the immediate charge of the deity. tending to ftrengthen a falutary domeflic policy. on the other fide. that in confequence of performing this ac~l of heroifm. Though the muft manity. ihe will partake of the moft exquifite future joys. ought not to be haftily condemned as a cuftom wholly cruel and unjuft. they frequently devote themfelves funeral pile of their huibands. is told by the Bramins. the widow. on the In addition to the dread of fo degraded a (late of humiliation.

and fimplicity of manners. which alone can render her ufeful or amiable in the eftimation of her family. are placed. or for preferving that decorum of character. that female acquired accom- plilhments are not neceflary . them from the The Hindoos invariably hold the language.Conformably to the tic ftate of domef- fubordination. and would conduce in woman from to give her a difreliih to thofe offices in . whether for the purpofe of contributing to a woman's own happinefs. They literature urge. that a knowledge of would have an a injurious ten- her dency drawing houfehold cares. in it which Hindoo has been judged ufe women of expedient to debar letters.

and fuch is the force of cuftom. with the utmofl care. The dancing girls. are trary educated in moft branches learning. are minutely inftru&ed in the and know- ledge of every attraction and blandifh- ment which can operate in communi- cating the moft refined pleafures. You . partake of. that or write. that a Hindoo woman would were it incur a fevere reproach fhe could read known. whofe occupaon the conof tions are avowedly devoted to the pleafures of the public.( 63 ) in which are centered the only fatis- faction and amufement that fhe can with propriety and an obfervance of rectitude.

ori- and enjoy the declared protection and fan&ion of attached according to their feveral capa- government. for which they are af~ fefled cities. unlefs acpanied with dancing ufual for girls. a particular clafs of They compofe the fociety they ginally may have been to. and it is them on a fixed day in the week to attend at the court of the prince or governor of the diftricT:. either . marked with any opprobious ftigma.( 64 ) You will be pleafed to obferve. No religious ceremonies or feftival of any kind is thought to be performed with the order requifite. or are they. on account of their profeflional conduct. that thefe women are not obliged to flicker themfelves in private haunts.

is implicitly it. I have known but few inftances of female incontinence amongft their K married .either to hibit ^ ( 65 ) make their obeifance. compenfation for fuch fer- they are endowed with certain grants of government lands. An Hindoo family. governed by the male fenior in to whom there is ihewn every token of reverence and refpecl:. or ex- fome entertainment. and acquaintance with the Hindoos. as a And vices. A his fon will not fit in the prefence of father without an exprefs defire. In the courfe of my refidence in India. and in his deportment and converfation obferves to him the moft affectionate behaviour.

and that their and men illuflrious characters. that I alfo.( 66 ) married women. fuch as^Scindia. in this never heard of a Hindoo mofl free-thinker. Extraft . much fcrupulous at- tention as the fimpleft peafant in their * Eminent Mhahrattah chiefs. and practife the mofl minute cereas mony with country. believe the tenets of their doctrine with as much fincerity. Nanah Purnawees* &c. of the world. I cannot avoid obferving. place. and not one of direct undutifulnefs to parents.

There does not exift a greater dif- ference in the manners of the inhabitants of thefe mountains. K * 2 I took The mountains at the head of the Punjab. April. . I will now over. and the people of your quarter. 1783. as I that of Brimhah. HP* H E -** religion which is prevails in thefe parts*. than generally does between high and low lenders of the fame nation. and have already in a fmall fketch endeavoured to throw fome light on curious fyftem pafs it that ancient and of worihip.Extra& of a Letter written at Kachmire. with an offer of prefenting thofe remarks to you fhould you ever be difpofed to read them. .

The cuftora of permitting the beard proceeds. this ceremony is performed left is by inclining the head over the fhoulder of the party embraced. in different modes to fhew their dif- dain and contempt of the fofter and more luxurious manners of country neighbours. and predominant in the difpofition of all mountaineers which. that of not {having the beard. their low The . from a certain ferocity diately and roughnefs immeincident to their fituation.I took notice of two ufages. to grow. prompts them . which feem peculiar to thefe mountaineers. and embracing . perhaps. and never ufed more than one time at a meeting.

bright olive com-< plexions.The ders embracing over the take its left I fhoul- only. and conyerfe unrefervedljr . as the fimple refult of that unlimited confidence which the Hindoo hufbands in general wives. which without having any tendency to immodefty. are pretty. though a pot of water has been on their heads. J have known the women to flop in the way. rife. repofe in * . ^. ftrikes you. The women have ly ihaped. and moft delicate- There is a pleafmg freedom in their manners. would conjecture. their * . or feeming to arife from habits of licentioufnefs. from the defire of having the right hand at liberty in cafe of danger.

which reaches to the girdle. commonly of a different colour. Their hair. from the bottom of the fore part of it. confifting of a petticoat with a border. or communicat- ing to them any other common infor- mation. and. which comes half way down the waift.( 7 ') fervedly with paffengers. is agreeable and decent. directing civi- them with lity in great good nature and the right road. is plaited and inter- woven with black filk or cotton firings^ . Their drefs I think. and a clofe jacket. which is held by them in as high an eflimation as that beautiful ornament can be regarded by our gayeft weftern females. drops a loofe ftomacher.

The women of the principal people are kept in Zinanahs. that the concealing certain ranks of women has been a cuf- torn eflablifhed amongft the Hindoos. moll becoming and graceful fafhion. in Hinduftan.7< firings. It * Mountainous and difficult of . and in a country*. but ne- ver wholly conceals the face. as amongft the to MufTulmen. which falling down the back. affords fome reafon of believing. Over this drefs. they throw in a a veil. which feldom touches. this pradlice exifting little were danger is be apprehended from the infpec~lion of foreign vifitants. previoufly to the date of any Maho- metan government. almoil fweeps the ground.

quently free from the apprehenfions. and knowing alfo that the Mhahrattahs. I am induced to think. and confe- which the conquered Hindoos may entertain.It was once my opinion that the Hindoos. were I to hazard an opinion on fome of the manners of the . who are an independent people. iffue who deem fe- of war a lawful had fecluded them from public view. adopting the ufage of their Muffulman conquerors males in the prize. At the fame time. ufe Zinanahs for their women of rank this . that cuftom did prevail in India before the XTci of the Mahometan invafion. But tifing feeing thefe mountaineers praC- the fame mode.

an awe and refpec"l for their families. L that . as their manners from the great influx of wealth and luxury amongft But them became lefs fimple. the Hindoos from their hiftory the bed of which. the Princes of the country produced this innovation for the purpofe of impreffing in the minds of their fubjecls. though they that are a people who have undergone fewer changes than any other.( 73 ) . In the different relations of the incarnations of Vyftnou. and in the hiftoiy of their antient Princes. I would fay. I am to obferve. did not confine any clafTes of their women. is ravelled in a maze of obfcurity and fable. that the Hindoos in former times. it is feen.

( 74 ) that at thofe periods. the Grand Deity his the Hindoos. In the hiflory of know. with the view of correcting certain abufes evils which at that time had de- ranged . on earth. I have met with Ram. this pofi- which may ferve to iliuftrate tion. my dear fir. r\<. you made a great figure a pafTage. a in mode of Europe.rK 3 that Sree of" Mun Narrain. fe>f\f Y"i*. who. indivifible the Mhah and Letchimy and the Snake. and often- times pofTefled great fway in them. and trace alfo to a high fource. together with afTociates. trial hitherto practifed v fH-*r 1 will premife. the Hindoo women had an unreftrained admiflion into the aflemblies of men. with informing you.

Letchimy became his wife. found it to perfonify human be- Narrain. fonages mixed cieties. fh is reprefented occafion. j terreftrial fyftem. On the contrary. the brother and conftant attendant of Ram. and the Snake was transformed into the body of a Letchimun. a renowned foldier. under the name of Seetah Devee. as bearing a part on every L 2 .( 75 ) ranged the expedient ings. took on the form of him Ram. freely in all human fo- nor in is there the leaft mention part made any of the hiftory of Seetah's having been reflricled from an admiflion to them. thefe per- Under this defignation. accordingly.

uatil return/ Ram might Seetah and her companion remained when lefs fome time in perfe6l fecurity and quiet. led on dqubtby the devil. perhaps. contrived that a bird of . that the eyes of eft women are the foon enfnared. A fervice of a dangerous nature re- quired.where it might have been proper for her fex to appear. {he was configned to the charge of Letchimun. came faw Seetah. by his fpells and incantations. This fubtle man having difcovered. that Ram fhould leave Seetah behind him. and the party being then in a defart. a famed magician. and became deeply enamoured with her. who is ever on the watch to draw that way. aftray the ladies.

fly full in the fight of fired This horrid experiment had the deand the completed effect for the . in . in the moft lively language. and. Ihort. by the affection he had for her. by the refpect he bore to Ram. by every thing he could hold dear. . Letchimun was amazed and much troubled at this entreaty : he endea- vored to expostulate on the eminent danger of quitting her in fo perilous a fituation. to procure for her the charming bird. Ram. deluded fair one inftantly conjured JLetchimun. the certainty of incur- ring the fevereft difpleafure of for a breach of his orders . He pointed out to her. fhould Seetah.( 77 ) of a moft brilliantly beautiful plu- mage.

(he accufed Letchimun of the defign of fe- ducing her. poflefs this object of her or ihe ihould become the moft miferable of women . that there did not remain in it one unoccupied fpace for the reception of Letchimun's advice. or her fafety. The .difap- pointment of her fondefl hopes. on the re- peated denial of Letchimun to comply with her defire. " -'-J --' t v*v '* -' - * *** i- She muft \vii~hes. and hurried on by a bur ft of rage. and alledged that as the only reafon of his diflike of leaving her. he urged every argument which a regard for his own character. The dazzling hues of this bird had pofleflion taken fucri ample of the mind of Seetah. could fuggeft. blinded by the. and.fhort.

of the bird but. to adminifter to . previoufly to his de- around parture. and through excefs of weaknefs. and He befought her. e Letchimun had no fooner gone. and the neceflity of an acquiefcence. he immediately went in queft . he drew a magic circle the fpot where Seetah remained . while Ihe continued within that fpace.( 79 ) This accufation convincing Let- chimun of the inefficacy of his argu- ments. in an arFec~ling a pitiable tone of voice. and told her. that no misfortune could betide her. than the plotting necromancer. afTuming the appearance of an old and a very infirm man. in a languid and a approached near the place where Seetah flood. he feemed obliged feeble manner to extend himfelf on the ground.

and with a boeffufions of fom overflowing with the ful of her humanity and benevolence. and that inftant into the power of her be* trayer. only now concerns me to make mention.( 8 ) thirft. unmind- own happinefs. or your amufement it to be informed of . for the removal of every fufpicion in his bread. that after Ram own had recovered Seetah. what cre- would but little contribute to my dit to relate. he ordered. felt but ill-fated the full force of the prayers of a diftrefled old man. The Seetah tender hearted. Here the ftory lets forth. fhe ftepped fell beyond the prefcribed bound. . to him a little water to allay his and to recruit an almoft exhaufted ftrength.

dergo the ordeal Seetah. but the feet of Seetah. which would be altogether a trifling one. ) bread. it not tend to indicate. without any ihew of dread. walked over the burning iron . and for effe&ually {hutting the mouth of Slander. heard the mandate with pleafure . that fhe fhould -untrial.( 8. and anxious to exhibit to the world fo public a teftimony of her purity. fays the hiftorian* being fhod with innocence. eager to baniih the moil latent doubt from the mind of her Lord. Pardon me. and. the fcorching heat was to her as a bed of flowers. that the M Hindoos . for thus inthis eaftern tale. my truding on you did friend.

proceed fomewhat farther. difpofitions of I As have thus far entered into a fubjecl:. aflinV my that the Hindoo women of rank. at. which has often excited my curiofity. doubtlefs. where amidfl the olio of talifmans. and that in thofe ages it would feem their women of the firft rank ap- peared in public. I will. genii and juft devils. The fame ftory. and recite to you a circumftance in corroborating which may belief. with your permifTion. conformably to .C 8* ) Hindoos had a knowledge of the ordeal trial. you are enabled to extract reprefentations of the manners and the people. as that ufe may is be made of this which contained in the Arabian Nights entertainment. a very early period.

where there were many youths of her own fex affembled. by throwing a wreath of flowers over the neck of the favored young man. Thia . fhe was con- ducted into an apartment.to ancient exifting. the perfcm the mofl pleafmg to her. She performed the ceremony. and to fome now fecluded were fight not wholly of men. if the lady Should have been agreeable to him. ufages. was efteemed her future hufband. and defired to felecl. was marriageable. or fuppofed to pofTefs an under (landing difcrimination of choice. from the When a young woman of the Rajah or the Royal Race. of declaring her fentiments. who.

have freely given ybu. my I friend. from a Mharattah who had an employment at the Rajah's court. arid received the intelligence firamin. obferved at this day in Tanjore. and am t6 intreat.'that you to will as freely difiet . I have been informed. and rejecting may appear as fuch may feem vague * or dictated by fancy. and analyfe as them taking fuch parts you founded on reafon and natural principles. F I N I .( 84 5 is 'This rule. where I refided fome little time. The aforegoing I opinions.

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