תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

on the mind of thy dear child, enabling her to endure with patience and fortitude a weak and painful state of health. Her placid countenance, her serene and tranquil spirit, her affectionate recollection of every friend, her joy at the prospect of going, as she so often said, " to God's throne," astonished, delighted, and edified every beholder; and to me, her afflicted and bereaved mother, has proved, and will for ever prove, a source of sweet and unspeakable consolation.

SELF-IMMOLATION.

(From the Genessee (N. Y.) Farmer.] The following account of the sacrifice of a Hindoo woman, on the funeral pile of her husband, may be relied on as authentic. It is an extract of a letter from Mrs. S. T. Newton, a resident in Calcutta, to her friends in this country, one of whom has politely favoured us with a copy for publication. Mrs. Newton is a native of Pittsfield, Mass. where her parents now reside.

CALCUTTA, June 18, 1817. I open my letter, my dearest friends, to tell you I have witnessed one of the most extraordinary and horrid scenes ever performed by human beings; namely, the self-immolation of a woman on the funeral pile of her husband. This dreadful sacrifice has made an impression on my mind that years will not efface. I thank my God that I was born in a Christian land, and instructed in the Christian religion.

This event is so recent, I can hardly compose myself sufficiently to rclate it. Last night I could not close my eyes, nor could I drive this martyred woman from my recollection. I am almost şick to-day, and I am sure you will not wonder at it. But this ceremony is so much celebrated, and by my countrymen so much doubted, that I was resolved to see if such - deeds could be.” I have seen, and the universe would not induce me to be present on a similar occasion. I cannot realize what I have seen. It seems like a horrible dream.

Yesterday morning, at 7 o'clock, this woman was brought in a palanquin to the place of sacrifice. It is on the banks of the Ganges, two miles only from Calcutta.

Calcutta. Her husband had been previously brought to the river to expire. His disorder was hydrophobia (think of the agony this must have occasioned him.) 'He had now been dead 24 hours, and no persuasion could prevail on the wife to save herself. She had three children, whom she committed to the care of her mother. A woman called to undertake was preparing the pile. It was composed of bamboo, firewood, oils, rosin, and a kind of fax, altogether very combustible. It was elevated above the ground, I should say, 20 inches, and supported by strong stakes. The dead body was lying on a rude couch, very near, covered with a white cloth. The eldest child, a boy of seven years, (who was to light the pile,) was standing near the corpse. The woman sat per: fectly unmoved during all the preparation, apparently at prayer, and

counting a string of beads which she held in her hand. She was just 30 years old; her husband 27 years older.

The government threw every obstacle in the way of this procedure. They are not strong enough to resort to violent measures, to prevent this abominable custom. Nothing but our religion can abolish it.

These obstacles delayed the ceremony until 5 o'clock, when the permit from one of the chief judges arrived. Police officers were stationed, to prevent any thing like compulsion, and to secure the woman at the last moment, if she should desire it. The corpse was now placed on the ground in an upright posture, and clean linen crossed round the head and about the waist. Holy water was thrown over it by the child, and afterwards oil by the bramins. It was then placed upon the pile, upon the left side. The woman now left the palanquin, and walked into the river, supported by her brothers, who were agitated and required support more than herself. She was divest. ed of all her ornaments, her hair hanging dishevelled about her face which expressed perfect resignation. Her forehead and feet were stained with a deep red. She bathed in the river, and drank a little water, which was the only nourishment she received after her, hus-. band's death. An oath was administered by the attending bramins, which is done by putting the hand in holy water, and repeating from the Shaster a few lines. This oath was given seven times. (I for. got to say the child received an oath before the corpse was removed. The brothers also prayed over the body, and sprinkled themselves with consecrated water.) She then adjusted her own dress, which consisted of long cloths wrapped around her form and partly over the head, but not so as to conceal the face. She had in her hand a little box, containing parting gifts, which she presented to her brothers, and to the bramins, with the greatest composúre. Red strings were then fastened round her wrists. Her child now. put a little rice in her mouth, which was the last thing she received. She raised her eyes to heaven several times during the river ceremonies, which occupied 10 or 20 minutes. She took no notice of her child, having taken leave of her female friends and children early in the morning. A little cup of consecrated rice was placed by the child at the head of the corpsc. She now walked to the pile, and bent with lowly reverence over the feet of her husband; then, unaided, she passed three times around the pile. She now seemed excited by enthusiasm, some say of a religious nature, others by affection for the dead. I do not pretend to say what motive actuated her; but she stepped upon the pile with apparent delight, unassisted by any one, and threw herself by the side of the body, clasping his neck with her

The corpse was in the most horrid putrid state. She put her face close to his; a cord was slightly passed over both; light faggots and straw, with some combustible rosin, were then put on the pile, and a strong bamboo pole confined the whole; all this was done by her brothers. The child then applied the fire to the head of the pile, which was to consume both parents. The whole was instantly

arm.

on fire. The multitude shouted; but not a groan was heard from the pile. I hope and trust this.poor victim expired immediately. She undoubtedly did without one struggle. Her feet and arms were not confined, and after the straw and faggots were burnt, we saw them in them in the same position she had placed them.

It was a voluntary act. She was resigned, self-collected, and perfectly herself. Such fortitude and magnanimity, such resolution, devoted affection, religious zeal, and mad delusion, combined, I had not conceived of, and I hope never to witness again. Hundreds witnessed this scene. Some admired the heroism of the womansome were ready to tear the bramins to pieces; for myself, I was absolutely stupified with pity and horror at this dreadful immolation. I am grieved to say, this is not an uncommon instance. · I believe I have given you all the particulars : put them in a better form, and tell this almost incredible story to some of my friends. There were present about 40 Americans, and a few English. I do not know the number of natives, but may safely say many hundreds.

Yesterday was also one of the feasts of Juggernaut. In returning home, we passed through a street, two miles in length, entirely filled with temples consecrated to that god, drawn by worshipping thousands and myriads, striving for that honour; they were offering gold, fruits, and the most beautiful flowers, to the different idols placed within these temples. The air was perfumed with the most precious odours. The house tops were covered with people, dressed in the most expensive and fantastic manner, and children covered with jewels. Bands of native music preceded and followed each temple, making the most discordant sounds. People who had nothing to give, screamed and prostrated themselves before the innumerable idols that were standing in the streets. The horses were stopped twenty times at least by the crowd, gathering to offer sacrifices to these images. Guards were placed in all directions to keep order.

I can give you no idea of this country-I am awe-struck, but feel no inclination to worship. I thank God, we are not Hindoos; and for all his mercies praise him.

Farewell, my dearly beloved friends.

EXTRACTS

FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE OF THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE

SOCIETY, PUBLISHED DECEMBER, 1817.

From Basseterre, St. Christopher, Oct. 16, 1817. About twelve months ago, when I was on the point of embarking for this country, you kindly furnished me with Bibles and Testaments, to distribute among the poor Negroes, and others, who were destitute of the Holy Scriptures, and had no means of obtaining them. I now take the liberty to present you my sincere thanks for your kindness, and to inform you how I disposed of your invaluable gift. Before i came to this Island, I was two months in Antigua. During my stay

ner.

there, several pious blacks came from Bermuda, an Island a short distance from Antigua, to request that a few Bibles and Testaments might be given them; for this they begged in a very affecting man

Mr. Jackson and I gave them two dozen of Testaments. We informed those poor Negroes that we could not prudently give them any more. We advised them to read to such as were unable to read, and then to lend their Testaments to such of their companions as were disposed to read for themselves. This they promised to do ; and, on receiving the rich treasure, their joy was inexpressible, as might be seen by the tears which flowed down their sable faces. Soon after my arrival in this place, a mulatto female slave called on me for a Bible, which I gave her. In a short time, several others, both black and coloured, called on me in a similar manner. As Í saw the want of the Scriptures which prevailed, I was careful to give to such persons only as were in low circumstances, and appeared truly in earnest. After giving the Bibles and Testaments away in this manner, the few that remained in my possession I gave to a Sunday School in this town, where about two or three hundred poor black and coloured children are gratuitously taught the principles of the Christian Religion.

From Berbice, August 6, 1817. The Rev. Mr. Davies has requested me to forward this letter to you. He is in great want of Bibles for the poor slaves and others in Demerara. It is pleasing to find that so many of those poor people, have learned to read the Scriptures, and that they take so much delight in reading this Holy Book, which is able to make them wise unto salvation, and contented and happy in their present condition.

Mr. Davies writes :-“ I had no just idea of the number of Negroes that wish for Bibles, till I mentioned to some of them, that I would procure Bibles for those who wish to have them.

The next week, applications poured in from every plantation, and every quarter, especially for Bibles with references in the margin. The Negroes say they will get the money ready by the time the Bibles arrive, which I hope will be in four months at furthest.”

We are endeavouring to prepare people for the Bible, by teaching them to read, and by pointing out to them the importance of it; and often wish that the 100,000 slaves in Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, could read; then we would write for 100,000 Bibles for them. The Negroes are sending you cotton, coffee, and sugar, every month; you must send them in exchange the precious word of God.

From the Moravian Missionaries on the Coast of Labrador*.

OKKAK, Sept. 18, 1817. We, the Missionaries of Okkak, return to the worthy Bible Society * Two of their number, of whom one bad ministered in Labrador more than thirty-one years, appeared at the Committee, on the 17th of last month, in the costume of the natives, and expressed the thanks of the Christian Esquimaux, for what the Society had done in their behalf.

in London our most respectful and cordial thanks for the additional and most valuable present of the Acts of the Apostles, in the Esquimaux language; which we have received by the vessel of this year. May the Lord bless your deeds, which are wrought in God; and may the work you are carrying on, still continue to prosper for the salvation of many thousand souls !

This portion of the New Testament in the Esquimaux language, affords us much joy and encouragement; nor do we entertain a doubt but that our Esquimaux also will receive the most beneficial impressions, when, this winter, they shall read the beautiful description of the origin of the Christian Church, and feel their hearts warmed with fresh motives to gratitude.

Our aged Missionary at Nain, Mr. Schmidmann, is indefatigably ăngaged in completing the translation of all the Epistles, and has so far succeeded, that we have been able twice to circulate the manuscripts for revision, and we shall do the same, this winter, for the third time; after which, we shall get the whole fairly transcribed, and transmit it to you, next year, for your approbation and printing. From a Calmuc Prince to the President of the Russian Bible Society.

January 4, 1816. On the 19th of the first Tiger month, I received, with great pleasure, the letter you wrote to me on the first day of the Mouse month, in the last wooden Swine year, together with two copies of the history of the merciful God, Jesus Christ, translated into our Mongolian language; one bound in yellow, the other in red. You desire me, for my own benefit, to read in this book, which contains the word of God, and to afford my subjects an opportunity to hear it, and learn from it also.

In obedience to this command, I have not only myself read the word and doctrines of the all-merciful God, Jesus Christ, but have given one of the copies to our Lama, who reads it with the Priests. Respecting my subjects, I wished to gather them together, this winter, in order to have this Book publicly read to them; but on account of the severity of the season, that is not practicable.

In the course of four months, the chief of my people will go upon a pilgrimage, to be present at the celebration of a religious festival, and assemble for the purpose of praying. At that time, I shall have the Book read to the people congregated for such a pious purpose, and in this manner obey your injunctions.

I shall not neglect, through the grace of God, giving you an account of the effect it has produced, and pray to Him, that he may have mercy upon me.

(Signed) TUMEN DSHIR-GALANG. Written in mine own solid habitation, in the Island of Shambay,

the first of the last Tiger Month of the Fire Mouse Year.

« הקודםהמשך »