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408

Custom observed on the Eve of St. Nicholas. [May, Both apples, puttes, and peaces they bring, with impartial justice, according to and other things beside,

the degree of good behaviour in the As caps and shooes, and petticotes, which candidates. But woe to the bad and secretly they bide ;

the incorrigible; a bunch of rods, an And in the morning found, they say, that old shoe, or sone worthless article, is this St. Nicholas brougbt :

sure to be their portion. At length, Thus tender mindes to worship saints and wicked things are taught.”

upon the appointed night, each child

with a face beaming with hope and Hospinian, in his Origin of Chris- gaiety, as the last act

before retiring to tian Festivals, potices the same: bed, hangs up a clean stocking near

“ It is the custom (says he), in many the chimney, which fails not to be places, on the Eve of St. Nicholas, to con filled, as soon as the little ones are fast vey secretly to children small gifts of va- asleep, by the parents or some good rious kinds, which they imagine are brought aunt or grandmother, with all sorts of by the saint himself, who in his passage bon bonis, toys, picture-books, &c. and through the towns and villages, enters in at especially with the much-admired ealthe closed windows and distributes them." *

able of the season, the New Year Although unknown with us, the cookie. As may be well imagined, custom is still retained in some parts day-light has scarcely appeared before

of the Continent and in America to all are alert, and even while it is yet the present day. Mad. de Genlis, in dark, a bold boy is now and then her Memoirs, thus mentions its occur- found who will creep oụt of bed to rence during her residence at Brem- feel if his stocking be well swelled or garten in Switzerland :

not. The treasures are emptied out « On St. Nicholas's Day, on getting up,

and spread upon the bed-clothes with they all (the children) find little presents all the joy and exultation natural to put in their shoes, which generally makes childhood, and their good or bad forthem waken before daylight.'

tune, with the little incidents conMr. Blunt, in his Vestiges of An- the busy chat of the breakfast table,

nected with the ceremony, serves for cicut Manners in Italy, informs us, that on New Year's Eve the stockings You will agree with me, I am per

and for the following week or two. of children are filled with cakes, comfits, &c. by a sprite or supernatural suaded, that this is a most pleasing being, to whom the name of Belfania custom, filling the heart of the child

with delight, recalling to inind the is given.

older members the joyous moments of Or its celebration in America, a friend has favoured me with the fol their younger days, and affording the lowing account. The similarity be- parents an opportunity of creating tween the Italian Beffana and the many an hour of happiness, in which

their fond affection participates equally ideal Sandy Claus of the American

with their offspring." children is curious. “ The custom alluded to in the verses of Barnaby above is a particular sort of cake made

The New Year Cookie mentioned Googe, is still kept up among the descendants of the old Dutch settlers, fully stamped and shaped, and distri

at this season of the year, and is fanciand those who have fallen insensibly buted along with liqueurs to visitors into their habits, but they have transferred the observance from the Eve of on the first of January. It may posSt. Nicholas, who you know is the sibly be the remains of an ancient Ca

tholic custoin common in the seventh especial patron of little children, to that of the New Year. Long before century, and which was prohibited by the important night arrives, dumerous

a canon of the Council of Constanconjectures and inquiries are made by cakes at Christmas, to be eaten in ho

tinople, held in 692, of preparing the young urchins respecting the per nour of the Virgin's lying in. It is son and being of Sandy Claus (evi- still usual with our ladies, when condently a corruption of St. Nicholas), ined, 10 distribute cakes, &c. to viwho, in the opinion of the majority, sitors. Cakes, however, may have is represented as a little old negro, been included in the Roman Sirene, who 'descends the chimney at night, and distributes a variety of rewards

or New Year's Gifts; and thus the

custom, united with the observance in * Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. I. honour of the Virgin, may have de

scended to the present time.

H.

P. 327.

ness

1827.]
On the Cremation of Indian Widows.

409 Mr. URBAN,

Summerlands, near barous murders are contrary lo Hindoo

Exeter, May 2. law. Ramahun Ruya, an eminent THE The revolting and horrid practice scholar, proves, that the Hindoo Shas

of burning annually in India trus are opposed to the custom. Unabove a thousand weak and deluded geera, Harecta, Purasura, and Vayasa, Hindoo widows, has justly excited, in are public writers who only recommend this country, strong feelings of disgust, the practice; promising the widow a unalleviated by any-well founded hope connubial happiness of thirty-five milof terminating so cruel and atrocious a lions of years in heaven, forgivene custom. Restrictive means have been for the most licentious life, and the deemed ineligible, as this dreadful act purification of all her family. A celeof self-immolation is pretended to be brated writer, Vishnoo Resee, directs 'a committed under the sanction of relia widow to dedicate herself to Brumgion; though it is well known, that in hachuya, that is, to lead a life of selfgeneral, the obtaining of a share of the denial and austerity of so severe a paproperty of the infatuated victim is the ture, that few can conform to it, in actuating motive of insidious Brahmins, which case, it is recommended to the and interested relatives. A tax on widow to ASCEND, of her own accord, cremation would, as the price of blood, the funeral pile in FLAMES, with some be equally disgraceful and nugatory. article which belonged to her husband. Rewards and bribes would involve a He exempts the widows of Brahiloss of character, and cut off a source mins, afterwards included. Munoo, the of greater profit. During my surveys greatest of their legislators, does not on Sumatra, I saw a man of the Battae recommend burning, but prescribes a anthropophagi, confined in a cage, life of mortification and austerity. He where he was well fed, in order to be says, that widows ought to pass their publicly devoured ; and on two poles lives in Brumachuya, or strict austerity, contiguous, were the sculls of persons The Hindoos believe, that any moral recently feasted on. The servants of precepts contrary to the doctrine of the Company had frequently bought Munoo, are unworthy of praise. off such unfortunate creatures, till this The artful Brahmins attempt to do very humanity was converted by these away the clear and decided, positive savages into a bounty on cannibalism. precept of Munoo, the acknowledged Avarice, fanaticism, and delusion, are Chief of Hindoo literature, by urging, opposed to every inadequale remedy that the recommendations of more than hitherto proposed, to remove an evil of one ought to outweigh the injunction the most distressing description. of Munoo, which amounts to begging

The law of the case is little known; the question. The words of the VEDA and as this shocking wickedness is fre- confirm Munoo's rational doctrine, quently brought to the notice of the “as by means of living, still the duties Legislature, it may be well to state it, usual and occasional, can be perforined as it may appear that a remedy may to purify the mind; and as by hearing arise out of the transgression of the of, and fixing our minds, and devoting Law itself; and paradoxical as it may our souls to Brumah, or the supreme seem, by the enforcement of the law of spirit, we can attain it (final beatitude burning, in its very letter? The resi- or absorption in Brumah]; no woman dent serrant of the Company is called should therefore spend her life (that is, on to authorize the cruel sacrifice; and suffer death] in hopes of attaining all he can do is to try dissuasives, to Surga, or bliss in heaven.” The Hin. see that the wretched female has not doo religion supposes rewards and been stupefied by intoxicating drugs; punishments proportioned in duration and to hear from herself a feeble assentio sublunary conduct, after which, acof her destruction, often the effect of cording to their Melempsychosis, the terror, or a disturbed and phrensied soul is to undergo multiplied and vamind. Let us then see whether death, rious transmigrations, till it becomes in so tremendous a form, is sanctioned so pure as to attain " absorption into by, or inflicted according to Hindoo Brumah," or as the Romans had it, law.

Est Deus in nobis, agitante calesciThe most celebrated Pundits and mus illo.The woman who burns Hindoo scholars have proved in a clear herself, is not exempt from these transand conclusive manner that these bar- migrations; and therefore, the best Gent. Mag. May, 1827.

410
On the Cremation of Indian Widows.

[May, Hindoo writers recommend to her a life power in India can no more prevent of abstinence and correctness, in pre- ihe crime than they can human saference to burning:

crifices in Temples, and the multiplied The advocates for burning say, that gross and immoral acts of the deepwomen are so constituted as to be un- rooted and degrading systematic superable to go through the prescribed rigid stition, which in a course of centuries course of required austerity for attainwill yield to civilization, followed by ing beatitude in heaven; and that by Christianity. burning they at once secure thirty- Let us now consider whether, in a five millions of years of happiness. violation of the legal mode of burning, The writers on the other side argue, 'a remedy against a cruel death can be that women would act thus from im- found. "The advocates on both sides proper motives of cupidity and selfish- of the question, admit that the Shastras ness, whereas they ought to place direct ' that the woman shall mount their glory in leading a life of purity, the BURNING PILe." Human nature self-denial, and penance, according to was found to shrink from so dreadful the Veda, and the sacred tenets of the a resolution, and the Brahmins to segreat lawgiver Munoo. Harieta lays it cure their victim, though unauthorized down, that," unless a widow burns in ly the Hindoo law, always have the the fire, she cannot get rid of her femia living tied to the dead body, and order nine body," in order that after her long that ihe pile shall not be lighted till term of married happiness in heaven, this precaution renders escape from she might go through numberless trans- agony and suffering utterly impossible. migrations, and be ultimately assimi. Previously to the introduction of this lated to Brumah, or the great Deity. diabolical contrivance, when the poor The sacred lawgiver Munoo says, that female, amidst fames and torture, ata life of abstinence and virtue is alone tempted escape, she was held down in sufficient to lead the widow to this the fire by the inhuman monsters final happiness: and that to prevent a around her, by means of bamboos and life of misconduct and impurity, burn- long poles. This is any thing but "a ing cannot be indispensably necessary, voluntary ascent to a burning pile." There cannot be a more striking proof It having been found that feelings of of a low state of civilization, than that horror arose in the minds of the more women, the mothers of families, should humane spectators, on seeing the halfbe reckoned so totally devoid of every burnt sufferer escape from the flames, sense of honour and shame, that á by the consumption of the ligatures ; dreadful and cruel death can alone and that she was driven back into the confer a posthumous character; and fire, a cunning expedient, preventing that they are enticed to this, by a pro- the possibility of escape, was had remise of a long course of sensuality, course to. A frame surcharged with after which they are liable to be burnt weights, was suspended over the pile. over again, by an unavoidable return to When the miserable victim began to an earthly condition. The Brahmins writhe in agonies, four ruffians cut the who made these absurd laws, are ex- ropes holding the frame in suspension, tremely immoral and licentious; and and it descended, so contrived as to if we are to judge from among our- secure the continuation of the burning selves, the law, as a punishment of sacrifice on an unhallowed altar, while vice, might be more applicable to the the yells of surrounding savages, and widower, than to his unfortunate and the noise of drums and discordant inmurdered relict.

struments, drowned the shrieks of the This distressing subject is frequently dying victim. All this process is brought before the British Legislature; utterly unsanctioned by law; and it and it must be evident, that there is repeatedly prescribes, that the widow no law which prescribes suicide in the shall, of her own free will and acshape of burning on a funeral pile. cord, mount A BURNING PILE." She is If the widow, unintoxicated, declares required by law, to pronounce the to the English magistrate her deter- Sunkulpa in these words, “I WILL mined resolution to be burnt with the MOUNT THE BURNING PILE." To be body of her deceased husband, or with within the scope of the words, the Brahsome article which (this was an artful mins direct the pile to be a little light. contrivance to secure posthumous sa- ed at one corner, just before the widow crifices) belonged to him, the civil is laid on it.' The Visknoo Moonshee

1827.]
On the Cremation of Indian Widows.

411 has it, let the wife embrace either a of chastity and abstinenceáre preferable. life of abstinence and chastity, or MOUNT The Sankya states this alone to be THE BURNING Pile.". The Noryuya lawful, while the Meermanosha allows Sindhoo positively directs, that no the choice of either. The laws declare bandages, bamboos, or wood, shall be that " no blame whatever is attached used in any shape to prevent escape. to those who prevent a woman's burnTo prove that the pile must be in ing;" and also, that all who dissuade flames round the dead body, before the her from burning act laudably." If devoted widow mounts it, the Soodhee- the widow recoils at the sight of the koumoode says, Let the mother enter raging pile, the fine is only a kahuna the fire, after the son has kindled it of couries, or about half a crown. around his father's corpse ; but to the The law prescribes in this case, that father's corpse, and to the mother, let the widow should be treated by her kim not set fire. If the son set fire to neighbours precisely as before." the LIVING mother, he has on him the Vishnoo Moonos forbids burning, guilt of murdering buth a woman, and and the learned Pundits say, that his a mother.

be thou a companion of thy In the page of history, we see what husband in life and in death," means a human nature, under very different regular life, which may ensure future circumstances, and from exalted mo- happiness with her husband. Mritytives, is capable of enduring. Though conjuya says, that all writers against an excellent Bishop, from a sense of the practice incur no blame, because remorse, and the heroic Mutius, from preventing the destruction of life is the excited feelings, voluntarily burnt off a strongest of the Hindoo tenets. Out hand, we are not to conclude that a of a population of a hundred millions, weak female, actuated only by cupidity forty nillions, at least, must be Hinand ambition, will ASCEND A FUNE- doo women; and the comparatively RAL PILE IN FLAMBs, as positively re- few who immolate themselves, must quired by law. The original lawgivers be a proof that the law is understood founded their hopes on the effects of as it ought, and that the victims who. fanaticism and religious enthusiasm. · suffer, are induced to sacrifice them. Their successors, finding human na- selves, by artful Brahmins, and avas ture unequal to encounter, voluntarily, ricious relations. The English, on a fiery trial, and death amidst fierce their part, will assuredly prevent nearly flames, perverted the law, so as to ren- all of these self-murders, by, seeing der it subservient to their atrocious that the deceived and infatuated object; purposes. We thus see, that the in her sober senses, and without interprevention of a dreadful crime, lies in ference, MOUNTS THE RAGING FUNEthe very enforcement of the rigour of "RAL Pile; and that as this is the the law; for by acting thus, where we strict law, such conduct cannot be obo cannot do better, we shall experience jected to. This requisite procedure what the Brahmins did, which is, that will save thousands; and increases not not one woman out of a hundred de- "the sufferings of the victim. stroyed illegally at present, will be The first Bishop of Calcutta sensibly found to sacrifice herself, as must be proposed, “ to afford to native children required, according to the express let- instruction in useful knowledge, and ler of the original law. This proce- especially in the English language, dure will save thousands; and is the without any immediate view of their only efficient remedy, till civilization becoming Christians. If this were geand Christianity shall totally abolish a nerally understood through the counbarbarous usage. It is supposed that try, it would, I doubt not, entirely the unnatural practice of burning arose alter the condition of the people. It from the frequent poisoning of Brah- would give them access to our literamins by their neglected and ill-treated ture and habits of thinking; and the wives. The law was founded on a familiar use of it would tend very principle of revenge; and even the much to dissipate the prejudices and recommendation of a life of unnecessary the indifference which now stand in austerity, deprived the widow, in this the way of conversion.” This sound world, of all chance of happiness.' reasoning is, cæteris paribus, applicable Twenty further authorities might be to the state of Ireland, where the adduced, to shew that the motives for teaching of the Euglish language ge. burning are unworthy, and that a life nerally, is the one thing needful; and

precept

· [May,

412 Moderate Reform in Parliament recommended. in such a manner as to prevent the in- the situation of a member became an terference of the Priest under religious object of value and calculation ; it restpretences. The stability of Roman ing with him, according to his princonquests arose from imparting to con- ciples, how he would act, in order to quered provinces a knowledge of their reimburse himself for the sum paid Jauguage, arts, and literature. We down for his seat. Hence arose the hold India, the brightest jewel in the actual sale of what are very properly crown, by, as it were, a standing mi- termed the Rotten Boroughs. racle. While the Politician is alarmed Whether a sum be illegally paid at the fearful progress of conquest, the down, or whether the member be sent Theologian contemplates vast moral in, feltered illegally, the corrupt prioconsequences. Our Government of ciple of the case is precisely the same. India is "darkly wise, and rudely great." It has been declared by high authority The hand of Providence is visible. in the House of Commons, that the We see the “Sons of Japheth dwelling corruption is as manifest as the sun in in the tents of Shem."

the firmament. Formerly, money was JOHN MACDONALD. giveu openly and avowedly. At pre

sent the same effect is produced by MR.URBAN, Summerlands, May 3. more cautious management. The MiGudhene Ceren elhange Megazine

, Government of the country, by une recommended by near one hundred avoidably taking human nature as he years of age, and repute deservedly in- finds il; and says, video meliora, creasing. Impartial'it certainly is; for prologue ; deteriora sequor.instance, in it some of my papers (im- The simple plan sketched in your perfect no doubt) have been attacked. useful work, will at least put an end Now, I like literary opposition; as it to the gross and corrupt tenure of tends to elicit truth. One of my op- rotten boroughs; and will, at the same ponents threw liule light on the sub- time, admit members to support the ject; and the other, who seems to moneyed and manufacturing interests, write “ de omnibus rebus, et quibus- without submitting to the degrading dem aliis," shewed an inclination to conditions now required, and so disdepress, without elucidation, or shew. tressing to just and honourable feelings. ing cause for mere objurgatory remarks. The principle of doing away a dan.

desirable plan of moderate gerous and disgraceful state of things, and temperate Parliamentary Reform, is fully admitted, in the occasional disstated in some of your former Numbers, franchisement of some guilty borough, appears in the public prints to be ge- while the only difference between nerally approved of; and the passing such and the others is, that the delirscene sufficiently evinces, that the un- quent has been found out, and detected constitutional influence of borough- in the guilt of bribery and corruption. holders, embarrasses even the throne It might be a fit subject of inquiry, by itself, much to the detriment and se- what means those boroughs became rious injury of the general interests the property of a few Peers, rich Comand public good. A great Borough- moners, or of a few individuals ; bat man sends his many members into the as such investigation might prove a House, to support his party or views. little too much, it may be refrained If he be unambitious, he receives a from; having them considered as proprice for each seat. The few or more perly. When they were bought off holders of boroughs, make a money or in Ireland and Scotland, as a necessary other bargain with the meinber re- measure previously to the formation of turned. Thus, in both instances, the an Union, it was found expedient to corruption is apparent, while the re. treat them as properly, to be valued at presentation of the people is quite out so many years purchase. I agree with of the question. The right of sending your Correspondent, that fifty-eight of members was originally granted for the obviously worst description, should services rendered, or on account of be bought, and abolished, leaving - the money advanced to needy Princes, or House to consist of the round and suffito, Governments requiring pecuniary cient number of six hundred members; aid. The members were paid for their and for good hearing, no room should attendance. When it became veces-,

contain more. sary to manage a House of Commons, It appears to be a general opinion

The very

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