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contrary, may part from her husband when she pleases, and by marrying another person, convey to him the whole property of her former husband. The children go with her, but their rank is decided by that of the father. If the wife has a lover, the husband may indeed kill him, but he incurs the resentment of all the man's relations, and the woman would be very likely to revenge herself by transferring the property to a new husband. Divorces are, however, said to be rare. When a chief dies, his heir is any one of his sister's sons, whom his widow may choose as a successor. If the youth is married, he immediately separates from his wife, who takes all his private fortune and his children; he marries the widow, and receives the wealth and rank of his predecessor. When the old lady dies, he is at liberty to choose a young wife, who, if she survive him, will, in her turn, select one of his sister's sons. The wife of a chief, when she divorces her husband, is obliged to choose one from the same noble family. The red turban and bell-metal bracelets, which are bestowed with great ceremony on the new chieftain, do not always make him contented with a partner so much older than himself. One, who was almost a boy, complained to an Englishman, with great simplicity, that he had married a toothless old woman, while his poor cousin had a pretty young wife, with whom he could play all the day long. The Bramins, by a peculiar custom, often take wives against their own will. If a father has a marriageable daughter, on whom he wishes to see conferred the privileges belonging to a Bramin's wife, he invites the Bramin to his house, and introduces the girl to him ; she respectfully offers her hand to the unsuspecting visiter, and the moment he takes it, her father begins to repeat the genealogy of his family. This constitutes a legal marriage, and there is no way of escape from it. Some writers have mentioned a tribe in the Carnatic, whose women are not allowed to be seen by any man, not even their husbands, who visit them only in the dark. Shut up in secluded apartments with their female companions, they employ themselves in weaving mats and baskets, and similar occupations. Even their sons are taken from them at three or four years old, and never suffered to look on them again. Women of their own tribe nurse them when they are ill, and when dead, their husbands sew them up in a sack, before they are carried to the funeral pile. This singular tribe was never large, and is now said to be nearly extinct. The clothing of the Hindoos is seldom washed; for neatness is not their characteristic. The fashion of their garments is modest; the arms and upper part of the neck only being uncovered. Women of all castes, throughout India, load themselves with jewels. Common bracelets are made of vitrified earth, green, yellow, and black. Another kind are made of glass, and esteemed beautiful in proportion to the closeness with which they fit to the arm. Blood is often drawn, and the skin rubbed off, in getting them over the hand; and as they are conti
nually breaking, the poor girls suffer not a little for their vanity. Gems, gold, and rare shells, exquisitely manufactured, are worn in the utmost profusion by those who can afford them. The loss of the precious metals in India, by friction alone, is said to be immense. The fashion is of ancient date, for the oldest statues of their gods and goddesses are almost buried in jewels. Females of the higher castes, married or unmarried, never go abroad alone, and without being completely veiled. If by any accident their faces happen to be uncovered, and they meet a European, they run, as fast as they can, into the first Hindoo house that has an appearance of respectability. In the interior of the country, a whole village of women are put in consternation by the sight of a European; this is probably in some measure owing to the insults of intoxicated soldiers. The rajpoots, one of the military tribes of Hindostan, treat their women with an unusual degree of respect. A rajpoot never forgives an insult offered to his wife or daughter, and nothing but the death of the culprit can atone for his offence. None but the grandees avail themselves of the privilege to take several wives; and even they seldom do it, except from political considerations. Their married women never visit any but their nearest relatives; and any female would be very much ashamed of being seen in public. The rajpoots, though exceedingly kind husbands and sons, have one strangely unnatural custom; they put to death new-born female inVOL. I. 8.
fants when they have no prospect of an advantageous settlement for them. The daughters which they bring up are kept most rigidly secluded from society. Merely to have been seen by any other man than their very nearest relation is considered pollution. The rajpoots carry this feeling so far, that when they cannot escape from a besieging enemy, they murder all their women, to prevent their being seen by strangers. -- The Mahrattas of Hindostan form a kind of military republic, and live in a miserably uncleanly, half-barbarous manner. The women have very little beauty, and have generally a bold look, different from any other Hindoo females. The poor sling their children over their shoulders in a bag, and march thus a whole day, without any apparent fatigue. They accompany the army on horseback, with faces uncovered, and seated in the same manner as the men. A circumstance related by Broughton, in his Letters, gives us reason to think highly of the morals of this rude tribe. A young girl served in Sindia's army two or three years, without being discovered. She gained the confidence of her superiors, and the regard of her associates, by conduct remarkably regular and exemplary. She always dressed her own dinner, and ate it by herself; and she was never seen to wash in the presence of any person. The secret which she took so much pains to conceal, was discovered by a young comrade, who, followed her when she went to bathe. As soon as it ‘’ was known that a woman had served so long and so
faithfully in the army, Sindia made her flattering offers of promotion in the corps to which she belonged, and his wife proposed to receive her into her own household; but Jooruor Singh, as the young soldier was named, refused all patronage, and continued to serve for some months. She was about twenty-two years of age, with a fair and interesting countenance, though not handsome. She frankly answered questions concerning her situation, alike without bashfulness or boldness. It was finally discovered that the affectionate creature had encountered the fatigues and perils of military life with the hope of raising money enough to liberate a beloved brother imprisoned at Bopal. As soon as this circumstance became known to Sindia, he discharged her from the army, made her a liberal donation, and gave her a letter to the nabob of Bopal, earnestly recommending her and her brother to his protection. It is very much to the honor of all parties, that Jooruor Singh, from the moment she was known to be a woman, received increased deference and attention; not even the meanest soldier presumed to utter an offensive word in her presence. This furnishes a good commentary on the severe but often-evaded laws of the harem. Perfect extermal freedom is always the greatest safeguard of virtue. The Nairs, on the coast of Malabar, have very extraordinary customs, for the origin of which it is difficult to account. Their women are beautiful and remarkably meat. They are usually married before they are ten years of age; but it would be deemed