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the circumstances attending it are generally known ; and because Mr. Sadler's announced motion will bring it before the House of Commons. We trust it will receive a dispassionate and full discussion. We have lately read in a periodical work in favor of mechanism, of the immense number of persons employed in the needle trade. We find from it, that the operation of pointing the needles was found to be so injurious to the eyes of the persons employed, that very few could continue in that part of the work, even for a small number of years, without entirely losing, or materially injuring their eyesight. This effect was supposed to be produced by some particles which issued from the needles, in this state of operation, but which were so small, as wholly to escape the sight, both of the persons employed and the by-standers. To prevent this injury, a mask has been recently invented, which is worn by the operatives, and has been found to answer the purpose.
Now in Spain, there is no establishment which exactly corresponds with that of the cotton spinners, or that of the manufacturers of needles, on the scale we have mentioned. Spain, therefore, has not those incitements to industry, or those employments for it, which we have mentioned. But then, children in Spain are not condemned to work twelve hours a day, in fetid air, and no one, to gain a livelihood, is forced to point needles at the expence of his eyesight. These instances bring the questions to issue. Can that be a good state of society, in which a large portion of the community are obliged, in order to obtain a miserable pittance for their livelihood, to engage in employments, incompatible with health, and unproductive of that comfort, which is necessary to the well being, even of the poorest man? May not the question then be wisely asked, whether, upon the whole, the idleness and listlessness of the Spanish poor, are not preferable to such a life of misery and ill-requited toil, as the labouring portion of Englishmen is generally condemned to ?
This is a curious and interesting speculation. We recommend it to the consideration of our political economists. Mr. Cobbett contends, in his History of the English Reformation, that England was much more populous, more wealthy, and more happy before, than she has been since, the Reformation. In support of his assertions, he has produced several important facts. He has, however, failed to convince us, that England was either more populous or wealthy than she is at present; but when we consider our pauperism, our poor law, our national debt, the extreme wretchedness of the hard working classes, and the horrible condition of the West Indian slaves, we are greatly inclined to think, that misery never abounded in the British dominions in so great a degree as it does at present. Why will not our legislators abandon their party squabbles, and give their whole attention to the considerations of those means which will most alleviate the distress, and increase the comfort of the poor? The subject is of paramount importance, and requires abundant consideration.
ART. VIII.- Observations on the Mussulmauns of India : descriptive of
their Manners, Customs, Habits, and Religious Opinions, made during a Twelve Years' Residence in their Immediate Society. By Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali. In two volumes, 8vo. London : Parbury, Allen, and Co.
1832. Of the many works that have been lately published, for the purpose of extending our acquaintance with the domestic habits and manners of the natives of British India, these volumes of Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali, are decidedly the most estimable. They introduce us at once into those sanctuaries of private intercourse, to which strangers seldom find access, and with which few even of the British residents become intimately acquainted. The kind of knowledge which peculiar facilities enabled our fair author to collect, for the information of her friends, in this country, and which she has been fortunately induced to exhibit to a wider circle, is perhaps of all others the most pleasing. We feel an interest in knowing every thing that concerns our fellow-beings, especially in distant parts of the world; we are gratified in hearing descriptions of their style of dress, and of the occupations which fill up the measure of their daily life; we follow them cheerfully through the details of their house-keeping, listen to their conversation, and national stories, participate in their amusements, and wonder at the differences which exist between them and ourselves, upon innumerable points of economy and conduct. No description that is characteristic of their private life can be considered too minute; our curiosity on this subject is insatiable, for let the contrast of its general complexion be ever so great with that of our own, there is still running through the whole of the distance between, that invisible, but not imperceptible, electric chain, which binds the whole race of man in the ties of sympathy.
We wish that the author had been somewhat less reserved, as to her own personal history. With reference to this topic, she merely tells us, that she passed twelve years of her life in Mussulman society: her husband would appear also to be of that nation, whereas she is herself an Englishwoman, who, we presume, originally went out to India, in connexion with some inissionaries, but in what capacity, whether as a domestic, or a translator, or a preacher, or a tract distributor, the deponent saith not. She does not give us the slightest idea of the course which Mr. Meer Hassan Ali adopted, in order to persuade her to share in his fortunes, though many of her readers would doubtless be very happy to know, whether a Mussulman's mode of making love resembles that established among the men of England. We very soon learn, nevertheless, that, however limited her communications may be, upon subjects personal to herself, she is really a sensible and very amiable woman, well acquainted with the practical duties of life, and accustomed
to fulfil them. She thought nothing of the climate, which, she contends, affects those only who are constitutionally idle. Her simple and effective expedient against the annoyances of that raging heat, of which so many complain, was the constant useful employment of her time, which preserved equally the health of her body, and her mind. Even when the thermometer was at its height, and the hot winds prevailed, or when that still more oppressive influence filled the atmosphere, which exists during the periodical rains, Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali found or made employment for her hours, and hence, they glided rapidly along, she assures us, without a murmur, or a sigh. The climate of India cannot, therefore, be half so formidahle as some of our Bishops have represented, when they endeavoured to increase the number of Episcopal officers in India, and to augment their salaries.
The manners of the Mussulman people are quite patriarchal. The master and mistress of a family receive the utmost veneration from their domestic slaves; and yet, the latter are allowed to converse with their superiors, and to give their opinions with the utmost frankness. Aged servants are treated with the most amiable kindness, and their
comforts, as well as those of poor relatives of the family, even to the remotest degree of consanguinity, are attended to with the most pious care. The spirit of kindliness presides over all their intercourse with each other ; the hearts of parents are ever warm with tenderness, while nothing can be more spontaneous than the obedience and affection of their children. Their reverence for age, and especially for an aged father or mother, knows scarcely any limits. Their charity to the poor flows from its proper source, their conviction that it propitiates the favour of heaven. It may be that this is not always the case, and that with some ostentation is the object. But when the needy benefit by the rich, as our author benevolently remarks, it is unjust to scrutinize the heart's motive, where the act itself alleviates the present sufferings of a fallen creature.' She adds,-and the sentiment and language are worthy of the proverbial wisdom of the east,-' imposi
is doubtless often practised with success by the indolent, who excite the good feelings of the wealthy, by a tale of woe; the sin rests with him who begs unworthily, not with bim who relieves the supposed distresses of his poorer neighbour. The very best of human beings will acknowledge, that they derive benefits from the bounty of their Maker, not because they are deserving, but that " He is merciful.”'
The race of the Syads, or Meers, descended from Mahomet, are greatly respected, and form the principal class of Mussulman nobility. The female Syads are all Begums, or ladies; and their honours being all derived from their genealogy, every degree of their descent is registered in their memory with the most scrupulous exactness. As long as the children of both sexes remain under the care of their mother, in her own apartment, popularly called
the zenana, it is an indispensable part of their daily education to recount their pedigree up to either Hasan or Hosein, the two sons of Ali, by his cousin Fatima. Hence, without referring to the manuscript genealogy, which is kept with sacred care in every family, they can generally trace the whole line of their ancestors, without the least difficulty. They are, of course, exceedingly jealous of the purity of their race, so much so, that, in the formation of connexions, birth is generally preferred to wealth. The consequence is, that the class of the Syads abounds in old maids. The author mentions an interesting instance, in which this pride of birth predominated over every advantage of a pecuniary description.
• There are three unmarried daughters, remarkable for their industrious habits, morality, and strict observance of their religious duties; they are handsome, well-formed women, polite and sensible, and to all this they add an accomplishment which is not by any means general amongst the females of Hindosian, they have been taught by their excellent father to read the Khoran in Arabic,—it is not allowed to be translated,—and the commentary in Persian. The fame of their superiority has brought many applications from the heads of fainilies possessing wealth, and desirous to secure for their sons wives so eminently endowed, who would waive all considerations of the marriage dowry, for the sake of the Begum who might thus adorn their untitled house. All these offers, however, have been promptly rejected, and the young ladies themselves are satisfied in procuring a scanty subsistence by the labour of their hands. I have known them to be employed in working the jaullie (netting for a part of the female dress), which, after six days' close application, at the utmost could not realize three shillings each; yet I never saw them other than contented, happy, and cheerful,--a family of love, and patterns of sincere piety. vol. i.
pp. S, 10.
Among the Mussulmans, the day and night are each divided into four equal parts, or watches, which are again subdivided into hours. The latter are marked by means of a brass ball floating in a tank of water. At the bottom of the ball there is a very small aperture, which admits a drop of the water every second ; the hours are numbered on the external surface, and, as the ball sinks, the progress of time is perceived by a watchman, who attends for the purpose, and proclaims it by striking with a hammer, on a broad plate of bell-metal. These watchmen are regularly relieved, at stated periods, as punctuality is a serious consideration amongst a people whose services of prayer must be performed at the appointed hours, with the most religious exactness. When a death occurs in a family, the principal survivor of the house mourns for forty days, during which period he allows his beard to grow :* and at certain
* The Prophet commanded the beard to be worn : but in modern times mustachios only are reserved on the upper lip, which are trained with the utmost care. The religious Mussulmans, however, strictly follow the precept.
intervals, he provides splendid dinners, which he sends out on trays, to his immediate relatives and friends, by way of return, we suppose, for their attentions during the period the dead body remains in the house. No cooking is carried on there as long as that is the case ; and hence, they deem it a duty to supply the family with ready-dressed dinners.
The married ladies have a habit, which appears to us very strange, of applying to their lips and gums, and occasionally to their teeth, a preparation of antimony, which dyes them as black as ebony. They pencil the eye-lid with lamp-black; and they particularly pride themselves on the delicacy of the line and symmetry of the arch of the eye-brow. Their hands and feet are cleansed until they exhibit a bright red hue, which they justly deem becoming and healthy. They wear a large ring of gold wire, set with rubies and pearls, suspended from the nose, and, however inconvenient they may find it, they cannot remove it, except on a particular festival, from the day of their marriage, until that of their death, or widowhood, unless they venture to despise one of their most ancient customs. Gold or silver rings are also suspended from the ears, which are pierced in nine or ten places, so that when all the rings are worn, they look like a fringe of the precious metal on each side of the head. On state occasions, the rings give place to strings of emeralds, and pearls, which fall in rows from the upper part of the ear, in a graceful and elegant style. They are remarkably attentive to the hair, which, generally luxuriant, and a jet black, after being well washed and dried, is anointed with sweet jessamine oil; it is then drawn, with nice precision, from the forehead to the back, where it is twisted into a queue, which usually reaches below the waist ; the ends are ornamented with strips of red silk, and silver ribands, entwined with the hair, and terminating in a large rosette. While the married women rejoice in the ebony colour of their teeth, the men, on the contrary, are remarkable for the white enamel of theirs, although their only tooth-brush is a broken twig of the pomegranate tree, from which the rind is stripped off, bruised and made pliant at the extremity. As we cannot venture to touch the higher mysteries of the toilette, we must refer them to Mrs.—we wish her name was not so long,—Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali,-a name, by the way, that bespeaks high rank among the Mussulman people of India.
*As I have rather prematurely introduced the native ladies' style of dress into this letter, I may as well conclude the whole business of their toilet under the present head, instead of reserving the detail of the subject for a future letter, when the zeenahnah is to be described, and accordingly proceed to :ell you that the ladies' pyjaamahs are formed of rich satin, or gold cloth, goolbudden, or mussheroo, (striped washing silks manufactured at Benares), fine chiniz,—English manufacture having the preference, silk or cotton ginghams; in short, all such materials are used for this article of female dress as are of sufficiently firm texture, down to the white calico of