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nour; our laws of honour are full of caprice, differing from those other laws, and sometimes differing from themselves : but there the laws of religion, the laws of the land, and the laws of honour, are all united and consolidated in one invariable system, and bind men by eternal and indissoluble bonds to the rules of what, amongst them, is called his cast.

It may be necessary just to state to your lordships what a cast is. The Gentû people, from the oldest time, have been distributed into various orders, all of them hereditary : these family orders are called casts; these casts are the fundamental part of the constitution of the Gentû commonwealth, both in their church and in their state.

Your lordships are born to hereditary honours in the chief of your houses. The rest mix with the people. With the Gentùs, they, who are born noble, can never fall into any second rank. They are divided into four orders; the Brahmins, the Chittery, the Bice, and the Soodur, with many subdivisions in each.

An eternal barrier is placed between them. The higher cannot pass into the lower; the lower cannot rise into the higher. They have all their appropriated rank, place, and situation, and their appropriated religion too; which is essentially different in its rites and ceremonies, sometimes in its object, in each of those casts. A man, who is born in the highest cast, which at once unites what would be tantamount, in this country, to the dignity of the peerage, and the ennobled sanctity of the Episcopal character;—the Brahmin, who sustains these characters, if he loses his cast, does not fall into an inferiour order, the Chittery, the Bice, or the Soodur, but he is thrown at once out of all ranks of society. He is precipitated from the proudest elevation of respect and honour to a bottomless abyss of contempt; from glory to infamy ; from purity to pollution ; from sanctity to profanation. No honest occupation is open to him. His children are no longer his children. Their parent loses that name. jugal bond is dissolved.

Few survive this most terrible of all calamities. To speak to an Indian of this cast is to speak to him of his all.

But the rule of cast has, with them, given one power

The con

more to fortune, than the manners of any other nation were erer known to do. For it is singular, the cast may be lost, not only by certain voluntary crimes, but by certain involuntary sufferings, disgraces, and pollutions, that are utterly out of their power to prevent. Those, who have patiently submitted to imprisonment—those, who have not flinched from the scourge—those, who have been as unmoved as marble under torture—those, who have laughed at the menaces of death itself-have instantly given way, when it has been attempted to subject them to any of those pollutions, by which they lose cast. To this cast they are bound by all laws of all descriptions, human and divine ; and inveterate usage has radicated it in them to a depth, and with an adhesion, with which no other known prejudice has been known to exist. Tyranny is, therefore, armed against them with a greater variety of weapons than are found in its ordinary stores.

This, amongst a thousand other considerations, speaks to us in very authoritative language, with what care and circumspection we ought to handle people so delicate. In the course of this trial your lordships will sec with horrour the use, which Mr. Hastings made, through several of his wicked and abominable instruments, chosen from the natives themselves, of these superadded means of oppression. I shall prove, in the course of this trial, that he has put his own menial domestick servant-a wretch totally dependent

a wretch grossly ignorantthe common instrument of his bribery and peculation ;-he has enthroned him, I say, on the first seat of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, which was to decide upon the casts of all those people, including their rank, their family, their honour, and their happiness here, and, in their judgment, their salvation hereafter.

Under the awe of this power, no

man dared to breathe a murmur against his tyranny. Fortified in this security, he says, Who complains of me ? —No, none of us dare complain of you, says the trembling Gentû. No! your menial servant has my cast in his power.

I shall not trouble your lordships with mentioning others; it was enough, that Canto Baboo, and Ginga Govind Sing, names, to which your lordships are to VOL. VII.


be familiarized hereafter ;-it is enough, that those persons had the cast and character of all the people of Bengal in their hands. Through them he has taken effectual security against all complaint. Your lordships will hence discern how very necessary it is become, that some other personage should intervene, should take upon him their representation, and by his freedom and his power should supply the defects arising from their servitude and their impotence. The Commons of Great Britain charge themselves with this character.

My lords, these Gentû people are the original people of Hindostan. They are still, beyond comparison, the most numerous. Faults this nation may have ;-but God forbid we should pass judgment upon people, who framed their laws and institutions prior to our insect origin of yesterday. With all the faults of their nature, and errours of their institutions, their institutions, which act so powerfully on their natures, have two material characteristics, which entitle them to respect :—first, great force and stability; and next, excellent moral and civil effects. Their stability has been proved by their holding on an uniform tenour for a duration commensurate to all the empires, with which history has made us acquainted ; and they still exist in a green old age, with all the reverence of antiquity, and with all the passion, that people have to novelty and change. They have stood firm on their antient base—they have cast their roots deep in their native soil ; perhaps because they have never spread them any where else than in their native soil. Their blood, their opinions, and the soil of their country, make one consistent piece ; admitting no mixture, no adulteration, no improvement : accordingly, their religion has made no converts ; their dominion has made no conquests; but, in proportion as their laws and opinions were concentred within themselves, and hindered from spreading abroad, they have doubled their force at home. They have existed in spite of Mahomedan and Portuguese bigotry; in spite of Tartarian and Arabian tyranny ; in spite of all the fury of successive foreign conquest; in spite of a more formidable foe—the avarice of the English dominion.

I have spoken now, my lords, of what their principles are ;-their laws and religious institutions, in point of force and stability : I have given instances of their force in the very circumstance, in which all the institutions of mankind in other respects show their weakness. They have existed, when the country has been otherwise subdued. This alone furnishes_full proof, that there must be some powerful influence resulting from them beyond all our little fashionable theories upon such subjects.

The second consideration in the Gentů institutions is their beneficial effects, moral and civil. The policy, civil or religious, or, as theirs is, composed of both, that makes a people happy, and a state flourishing (putting further and higher considerations out of the way, which are not now before us), must undoubtedly, so far as human considerations prevail, be a policy wisely conceived in any scheme of government. It is confirmed by all observation, that, where the Hindu religion has been established, that country has been flourishing. We have seen some patterns remaining to this day. The very country, which is to be the subject of your lordships judicial inquiry, is an instance, by an entire change of government, of the different effects resulting from the rapacity of a foreign hand, and the paternal, lenient, protecting arm of a native government, formed on the long connexion of prejudice and power. I shall give you its state under the Hindû government from a book written by a very old servant of the company, whose authority is of the greater weight, as the very destruction of all this scheme of government is the great object of the author.

The author, Mr. Holwell, divides the country of Bengal into its different provinces. He supposes what they then paid to the supreme government; he supposes what the country is capable of yielding; and his project is to change entirely the application of the revenues of the country, and to secure the whole into the hands of government. In enumerating these provinces, at last he comes to the province of Burdwan.

“ In truth (says this author), it would be almost cruelty to molest this happy people ; for in this district are the only vestiges of the beauty, purity, piety, regularity, equity, and

strictness of the antient Hindostan government.

Here the property, as well as the liberty, of the people are inviolate. Here no robberies are heard of, either publick or private. The traveller, either with or without merchandise, becomes the immediate care of the government, which allots him guards, without any expense, to conduct him from stage to stage ; and these are accountable for the safety and accommodation of his person and effects. At the end of the first stage he is delivered over, with certain benevolent formalities, to the guards of the next, who, after interrogating the traveller as to the usage he had received in his journey, dismiss the first guard with a written certificate of their behaviour, and a receipt for the traveller and his effects; which certificate and receipt are returnable to the commanding officer of the first stage, who registers the same, and regularly reports it to the rajah."

“ In this form the traveller is passed through the country; and if he only passes, he is not suffered to be at any expense for food, accommodation, or carriage for his merchandise or baggage ; but it is otherwise if he is permitted to make any residence in one place above three days, unless occasioned by sickness, or any unavoidable accident. thing is lost in this district, for instance a bag of money or other valuables, the person, who finds it, hangs it upon the next tree, and gives notice to the nearest chowkey, or place of guard ; the officer of which orders immediate publication of the same by beat of tomtom or drum."

These, my lords, are the effects universally produced by the Hindû polity throughout that vast region, before it was distorted and put out of frame by the barbarism of foreign conquests. Some choice reserved spots continued to flourish under it to the year 1756. Some remained till Mr. Hastings obtained the means of utterly defacing them. Such was the prospect of Benares under the happy government of Bulwant Sing. Such was the happy state of the same Benares in the happy days of Cheit Sing, until in the year 1781 Mr. Hastings introduced his reform into that country.

Having stated the general outline of the manners of the original people of Hindostan ; having stated the general

If any

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