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curious approximation to the name of the western bard, and their offices are nearly similar. There is hardly a great inan throughout Hindostan who hath not some of these tribes in his service.
The transactions with the Gracias brought me more immediately acquainted with the Hindoo seers, astrologers, and prophets, of Guzerat. During my residence at Dhuboy I had frequent occasions of slight intercourse with these extraordinary people ; who had pretended to foretel my periods of happiness, and warn me of impending dangers. But I found their predictions were not infallible.
These astrologers were consulted by the Gracia chieftains on the first rumour of the expedition against Mandwa, and flattered their vanity by assuring them that their fortress was impregnable, that the English arms would not prevail, and that the Gracias might set our threat at defiance. Oriental sovereigns of far more importance, attend to their divinations on the events of war or the terms of peace. They are sent for, as was the seer of Aram by the king of Moab, when the armies of Israel approached his territories, to curse a people that were too mighty for him. Balaam was not a prophet of Israel, but one of the oriental seers who were then consulted on important occasions, and were sometimes permitted to utter solemn truths, and extend their prophecies to distant periods. We are expressly told the source of Balaam's inspiration on this occasion. His parables not only foretold the success of the Jewish army, but in the sublimest strains, predicted the coming of the Messiah !
The astrologers and magicians at Rome at length
AUGURS AND SOOTHSAYERS.
fell into such disrepute, that, according to Tacitus, the whole tribe was banished from Italy, by a decree of the Senate. Two of them were put to death; one was thrown from the Tarpeian rock, and the other executed, at the sound of a trumpet, on the outside of the Esquiline gate. The magicians of Chaldea, and the professors of judicial astrology, wishing to be deemed men of real science, called themselves mathematicians, a name which frequently occurs in the Annals of Tacitus.
Many augurs and soothsayers in India, though not of any particular caste or tribe, are I believe set apart and educated for the purpose in the seminaries of the Brahmins. We frequently read of the schools of the prophets among the Jews ; although, probably, few of the pupils were afterwards dignified with that sacred title, or endowed with any supernatural gift. I am led to imagine that in many Hindoo seminaries, instead of encouraging mental and moral improvement, in those liberal and solid acquirements which expand the ideas and dignify human nature, the pupils are instructed in astrology, geomancy, cabalistical knowledge, and similar attainments, which tend to weaken and degrade the rational character. Unlike the great and wise Akber, who instituted public schools throughout his extensive empire, where, after the boys had been taught the letters of the Persian alphabet, and the first rudiments of science, they were then instructed in morality, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, agriculture, æconomics, physic, logic, natural philosophy, abstract mathematics, divinity, history, and the art of government. In the Hindoo schools every one was
educated according to his circunstances, or particular views in life ; a plan which might be wisely adopted in many civilized countries of Europe. From those regulations, the schools of Hindostan obtained a new form; and the colleges became the lights and ornaments of the empire.
I have omitted geomancy among the sciences taught in the schools of Akber, as undeserving a place in his liberal plan of education; but, distinct from the diviners and soothsayers lately mentioned, there are in Ahmedabad, Baroche, Dhuboy, and most cities in India, a class of females, skilled in astrology, geomancy, and fortune-telling; these women were well known among the Greeks and Romans; and in our translations from the Hebrew they are called wisewomen, which exactly answers to their appellation amongst the modern Indians. They are frequently introduced by the ancient poets under the denomination of enchanters, diviners, and charmers. Their power was supposed to be very great; and they used various devices to accomplish their purpose. Ovid introduces one who had power over all the elements ; and another, mentioned by Theocritus as consulted by a love-sick swain, exactly corresponds with a circumstance which came immediately within my own knowledge.
Wise ladies of this description are now consulted by young people in India, on the same subject ; especially on the jealousy, revenge, and other passions prevalent in an Asiatic zenana.
I could recite many modern anecdotes similar to those in Persian and Arabian tales, but will confine myself to that above alluded to.
A young gentleman, when collector in one of the Company's districts in Guzerat, separated from all European society, formed a temporary connection with an amiable Hindoo girl; for this step no justification is offered, though the most rigidly virtuous would, perhaps, make some allowance for influence of climate and custom, a total seclusion from European refinement and elegant society, and the impossibility, thus situated, of forming an honourable union with one of his fair countrywomen. In a Christian country, where every man may wed the object of his affections, and where individual example influences the circle in which he moves, a deviation from moral rectitude admits not of this extenuation; but when seduction or adultery aggravate the crime, the evil strikes deep at moral and religious principle, and destroys domestic comfort.
The example of this young Englishman could have little effect among a people who neither professed the religion, nor practised the manners of Europe. His attachment to Zeida was constant, delicate, and sincere; he never saw her at her own house, and she entered the durbar by a private door in the garden. Three years had passed in this manner, when one evening the lovely girl, her eyes suffused in tears, informed her protector that knowing he would shortly return to Europe, a cavalry officer of a good family in her own caste, had offered to marry her; a proposal she never would have listened to, had he remained in India ; but under the idea of losing him, she requested his counsel on a scheme so important to her happi
Her friend, delighted with this honourable
establishment, readily consented, and the marriage took place. Zeida lived with her husband in a remote part of the city; from prudential reasons all former intercourse ceased; and from the different modes of life between Europeans and Asiatics, nothing was heard of Zeida for many months. .
In the warm nights preceding the rainy season, the youth generally slept upon a sofa, placed under a gauze musquito-curtain, on the flat roof of the durbar; to which there was one ascent from the interior, and another by an outer flight of steps from the garden. While reposing there on one of those delightful moonlight nights known only between the tropics, and apparently in a dream, he thought something gently pressed his heart, and caused a peculiar glow, accompanied by a spicy odour, which impregnated the atmosphere ; under this sensation he awoke, and beheld a female reclining over him in a graceful attitude. Her personal charms, costly jewels, and elegant attire were discernable through a transparent veil, a double fold artfully falling over the upper part concealed her features. Her left hand contained a box of perfumed ointment, with which her right was softly anointing his bosom, nearest the region of the heart. Doubtful whether the scene was real, or the effect of a warm imagination, he remained for some moments lost in astonishment; when the lovely stranger, throwing aside her veil, discovered Zeida, decked with every charm that youth and beauty could assume on such an interesting visit.
When his surprise subsided, Zeida informed him the marriage had turned out unfortunate; in hopes