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INFANTICIDE.

(SEE FRONTISPIECE.)

Of all the cruel practices arising out of blind superstition, and connected with a depraved state of society, that of mothers destroying their own children is at once the most shocking and unnatural. In different countries there are different reasons assigned for this in human waste of life; and in every case it seems to arise out of an idea that some malignant deity, or some destructive power, demands this sacrifice, and cannot be restrained in the exercise of its malignity without it.

We can scarcely imagine a more striking picture of the horrors existing in the heathen world, than by contrasting the state of a Christian family on the birth of an infant, with that of the poor mother, who dares not look into the face of her child, lest she should see some smile or look, or innocent expression, that would make it doubly hard to render up the sacrifice demanded at her hand.

It is a remarkable fact, and one which must greatly enhance the suffering of those parents who have natural feeling for their offspring, that sudden extinction of life is seldom resorted to in such cases,

but that means are employed the most likely to prolong the life of the victim through a lengthened period of hopeless agony. Even in Bengal, which has for so many years been subjected to British control, a horrible kind of infanticide is practised to a shocking extent; the child thus doomed to death being hung up on the boughs of a tree in a basket, to take its chance of surviving the attacks of myriads of insects, or of scarcely more rapacious birds. Should the helpless creature struggle with its misery for three days, the mother will receive it again; but this can seldom happen under the frightful circumstances of its situation. All this is done under the idea that the powers of destruction demand such a sacrifice for their satisfaction, or to appease their wrath, and that if the victim is withheld, the whole family, or perhaps the district in which they live, will be made to suffer; for, although they do acknowledge one supreme God, they blindly worship his attributes, and, amongst these, appear

to pay the most regard to his vindictive or destructive powers.

When the happy families of England meet around the winter's fire—no brother, no sister absent from their cheerful band-it is sometimes good to remember these things, and to ask themselves what they can do for a people, who, perhaps the most amiable in their natural character of any in the world, need only the blessed religion, under whose more merciful dispensations we live, to teach them that the God they now so ignorantly worship, is a God of LOVE.

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BRITAIN BEFORE ALFRED.
ITH a country covered with ruined fort-

resses and mouldering towers, it is not
wonderful that great interest should be
felt, even by young people, in vaulted
gateways and feudal relics ; and we are
ready to believe that the frowning port-

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