« PreviousContinue »
mand the confidence of the Christian world, or protect them against the just censures of the best and wisest of their contemporaries. They will recognise that in the judgment of their own time and of posterity, all the claims of numbers and of ecclesiastical titles go for nothing, compared with the charity and learning of a Gregory of Nyssa, in spite of his latitudinarianism; or the eloquence and moderation of a Gregory of Nazianzus, in spite of his want of worldly wisdom.
Let us hope that in both these assemblies, if indeed they actually take place, the lessons of the past may have some effect. If the prelates who meet, whether at Rome or in London, determine each to maintain his own independent judgment, and not to be led by party-feeling or fear of the majority; if they insist on deciding nothing against the parties accused or interested without hearing fully from themselves what they have to urge in their own defence; if the obnoxious cardinal is welcomed from the Sabine hills, and the obnoxious prelate from the pastures of Durban, to take their places in the deliberations of their brethren; if they strictly confine themselves to the rules of law laid down by the Chụrch and country to which they belong; if they determine, in the spirit of Basil and the two Gregories, to do nothing which can circumscribe the existing liberties of the Church; if they use every means to avail themselves of the superior truth and grace which Providence has awarded to the nineteenth over the fifth century; if the Italian bishops will lend their whole energies to reconcile themselves with the wants of their country, and the English bishops to remove whatever barriers prevent their Church from becoming truly national—then they will have reaped for themselves a glory which few, if any of the Ecumenical Synods have attained. But if, unfortunately, they fall under the temptations which epsnared the Fathers of the ancient Council—if party-spirit prevails over individual conviction—if the absent are condemned and the accused not heard—if the opinions which are condoned in the
prosperous are censured in those who are in ill-favourif the control of the law is set at nought and the advance of science and the claims of charity are disparaged--if the proceedings are conducted in secret, and the objects proposed are unknown—if they are made the mere instruments of furthering the private views of some ambitious or some fanatical leader then the utmost that can be hoped from such meetings is that they may be utterly void of fruit or effect; then, with so much the more force because charged with the accumulated experience of ages, will be awakened once more the reproach of Gregory Nazianzen, 'Councils and synods I greet afar off I never saw from a meeting of bishops anything but an « addition of evils.'
Di meliora piis. It may be hoped at least from the English synod that its members will remember the truth so constantly urged by M. de Broglie, that the decisions even of Ecumenical Councils depended entirely for their value on the reception which they met from the outside world, not on the rank or authority or numbers of those who uttered them. What force the decisions of the Italian Assembly may have for the members of the Roman Catholic Church, it is not for us to say. But, as it is certain beforehand that the decisions of the English Assembly will have no legal force whatever, so also it is certain that in themselves, as viewed apart from the moral or intellectual character of each individual, they will have no more weight in fact, than they will have in law. To be fully aware of this condition of an ecclesiastical assembly is its only safeguard against itself. If the bishops convened in July and September could place this fact clearly before their eyes-- if they meet simply for the friendly interchange of varied experience, in the full light of day, without respect of persons, determined to ascertain the truth only from the best sources, and to see things as they are seen by the great lay world without them if they bear in mind the human infirmities besetting all such joint deliberations, into which the spirit of worldly policy and of faction must of necessity largely enter—then, although it is not to be expected that their meetings should lead to any striking results, they would at least avoid the scandals and just censures which have caused such gatherings to be viewed with suspicion, rather than with reverence, by those who would be most willing to pay honour and respect to the individual persons composing them.
ART. V. - The Textile Manufactures and the Costumes of
the People of India. By J. FORBES WATSON, M.A., M.D., F.R.A.S., &c., Reporter on the products of India to the Secretary of State for India in Council. Printed for the India Office, 1866. The art of weaving, in all its perfection and its beauty, has
existed in India from the earliest period of which there is any record. It is impossible either to estimate its antiquity, or ascribe its introduction to any particular era or person, nor does any tradition on the subject exist in the country. The hymns and ritualistic observances of the Vedas afford direct evidence that it flourished in the very earliest times, and is coæval with the dawn of law and religion. In the Institutes of Menu, compiled perhaps a thousand years before the Christian era, weaving is spoken of as a familiar handicraft; and it is evident that the people at large were clothed with apparel,' rich or plain according to their circumstances. That ancient legislator did not disdain to regulate the rights of dress, and to determine the splendour of a trousseau. In ch. iii. v. 27 we find, ' The gift of a daughter clothed only with a single ‘ robe, to a man learned in the Veda, is the nuptial rite called "“Brahma ;” and in v.28, The rite which the sages call * Daiva, is the gift of a daughter whom her father has clothed in
gay attire.' Again, in the same chapter, v. 61, · Certainly 'if the wife be not elegantly attired, she will not exhilarate her husband;' and v. 62, A wife being gaily adorned, her whole house is embellished. If she be destitute of ornaments, all will be deprived of decoration. The wardrobes of ladies of that period were probably valuable, since we find it provided in ch. iv. v. 200, that such ornamental apparel as women wear
during the lives of their husbands, the heirs of those husbands shall not divide among them.' And at the present day, though widows no longer wear the rich clothing they possessed during their husband's lifetime, it remains their own property, and they are at liberty to give it away in charity, or to the younger members of their families, or dispose of it as they please. What the ornamental apparel alluded to in the above quotation may have been, we have no means of ascertaining; but that it was woven cloth of cotton or silk there can be no doubt, since in ch. viii. v. 30 there is the following passage regarding the practice of weaving : • Let a weaver who has ' received ten palas of cotton thread give them back increased 'to eleven by the rice water, and the like used in weaving. He
• who does otherwise shall pay a fine of twelve panas.' It appears, therefore, that "size' was used in the process as it is at present; and the quantity was limited to prevent adulteration of the material employed. Where clothing existed it would be necessary that it should be washed, and washermen are cautioned in ch. viii. v. 39 in these precise terms: Let a washerman ' wash the clothes of his employer by little and little, or piece .by piece, and not hastily, on a smooth board of Salmadé wood; • let him never mix the clothes of one person with the clothes • of another, or obliterate the marks, nor suffer any but the
owner to wear them.' And in ch. v. it is further directed that silk and woollen stuffs are to be washed, or purified, with • saline earths, and cloths by washing or sprinkling.' We have thus evidence of the existence of silk, woollen, and cotton cloths; and in ch. X., among articles which Brahmins are prohibited to sell, all woven cloth dyed red, cloth made of Sana or Kshuma bark (whatever that may have been), and of wool,
even not red,' are enumerated. No trace of linen, that is cloth made from flax, is to be found in Menu, or any of the earlier works of the Hindus; and it is probable that flax had never been made from the linseed plant for the manufacture of yarn for weaving. Hemp and jute no doubt were used for the same purposes as at present-ropes, and coarse sacking for grain bags, elephant and camel gear, and the like; but it is hardly probable that where a delicate and plentiful fibre, like that of cotton, existed, the coarser material of hemp or jute, ambari, and others used in India, would have been employed for dress. Cotton certainly ranked among the very earliest material employed by Indian spinners and weavers. This plant grows wild in many parts of India, and under cultivation has become what it is now, and perhaps ever has been, the main clothing of hundreds of millions of human beings. If shorter in staple, and perhaps somewhat coarser in quality, than the more highly and artifcially cultivated American, it has yet its own peculiar advantages of greater strength, better colour, and a higher susceptibility of receiving and retaining dyes; while the finest textures produced from it, still defy the imitations of modern times and the employment of machinery.
In a paper contributed by Mr. Colebrooke to the Asiatic Researches, vol. v., upon the principal mixed classes which have sprung from intermarriages of the original tribes, and which is a compilation from the Rudrayamala' and Jati'mala,' or enumeration of castes and professions, the origin of the · Tantraváya,' or weavers, is thus stated :
<“Murdhabhishicta” is descended from a Brahman by a girl of the Cshatriya class. His duty is the teaching of military exercises. The same origin is ascribed in the great Dherma Purana to the Cambhacára or potter, and to the Tantraváya or weaver, sprung from two mixed classes, begotten by a man of the “Manibanda,” on a woman of the “ Manicárá." We find also in the same paper the following passage in regard to the production and preparation of silk which, there can be little doubt, is as ancient an art in India as the preparation of cotton for the loom.
The Pandracára, and Patta Satracára, or feeder of silkworms, and silk twister, deserve notice; for, it has been said that silk was the produce of China solely until the reign of the Greek Emperor Justinian, and that the laws of China jeulously guarded the exclusive production. * The frequent mention of silk in the most ancient Sanscrit books would not fully disprove that opinion ; but the mention of an Indian class, whose occupation it is to attend silkworms, may be admitted as proof, if the antiquity of the Tantra be not questioned.'
The antiquity of the Tantras receives support from the details of the Code of Menu, where special legislation is made for the conduct and position, in the great Hindu scale, of all mixed classes and handicraftsmen. The origin of the caste of the · Tantraváya,' or weavers, may be fabulous or imaginary; but the fact that they existed at the period of Menu, or three thousand years ago, and far before that, in the dim ages of the Vedas, is beyond question by the frequent mention of woven fabrics in all ancient Sanscrit works; and it is a strong confirmation of the hitherto unchangeable condition of the artisan classes of India, that the weavers, as indeed for the most part other handicraftsmen, should form a distinct body in all localities of the country, pursuing, up to the present time, the same hereditary occupation as they did three thousand years ago, if not indeed much more.
The fabrics they weave now, are probably not much altered in character from what they were in the time of Menu; and their looms, simple and apparently rude in construction, are, under their wonderful powers of manipulation and unwearying patience, capable of producing some of the finest, most elegant, and most costly fabrics in the world.
The characteristic of Asiatic costumes and manufactures is immutability. Unlike the European artisan, who seeks to humour the appetite of fashion by incessant novelty, the Oriental sets his loom after the manner of his forefathers, or
* The great Epic Poem the 'Ramayana,' possibly as old as some portions of the Vedas, and certainly twelve to fourteen hundred years before Christ, affords very distinct evidence of the existence of silk cloths. When the brides of Rama and his brothers returned home, their mothers-in-law'sumptuously clad in silk, hastened to the temples of the gods to offer incense,' &c.