Imágenes de páginas


THE knowledge of the West, as it regards the East, is now sealed up in the languages of Europe; and the most important step towards bestowing upon India the moral treasures of the civilized world, is to open, as extensively as possible, the mines from whence instruction may be drawn, that the people may enrich themselves.

English, being the language of the rulers of India, must be the chief depository from whence those treasures can be obtained ; and the more that language is put in possession of the intelligent amongst the people, the more rapidly will they transfer the new and regenerating wisdom, which it contains, into the circulating medium of the country, the vernacular languages, the only channels through which moral and intellectual improvement can reach the mass of the inhabitants.

It seems most desirable, therefore, that means should be multiplied to facilitate the study of English, and that care be taken, even in the mechanical process of learning the language, that the scholar should, at the same time, be enlarging his mind, and improving his heart by the lessons taught. Much benefit may be expected to result to the inhabitants of India from the study of Astronomy, because the native mind is at this moment, from the Prince to the peasant, in the daily affairs of life, blindly guided by the movements and positions of the planets in the heavens, to an extent of which the European mind has but a feeble conception : it seems then of importance, that just ideas should be imparted of the planetary system, now exercising an influence so powerful upon almost every family in the land.

There is scarcely any village throughout India, however poor, which does not maintain its astrologer, who is usually a Brahmin, to consult the position of the planets, and to dictate to the inhabitants the propitious times and seasons for all their important undertakings, or whether they should be pursued or abandoned,

There are, of course, many exceptions; but, speaking generally, it may be said, that the humble cultivators of the soil venture not to follow the counsels of their own judgment and matured experience, of the fittest times and seasons ; but before presuming even to plough

their fields, must first ascertain the position of the planets, by consulting the village astrologers, who, spreading out their mysterious books, calculate the conjunctions of the heavenly bodies, and dictate to the submissive ryots, when they shall break up the soil, and often, when they shall consign the seed to the earth!

In like manner, if a house is to be built, if a journey but of two days' duration is to be undertaken, Reason's voice must not be heard, the astrologer must determine the propitious seasons for such undertakings.

The most important events in life literally depend upon the calculations and judgment of the astrologer; for who, amongst the inhabitants of India, would venture to contract a marriage, the most momentous alliance in existence, without taking counsel from astro


* A few facts will best illustrate this. An instance has just happened (and such are of daily occurrence) where a respectable Hindoo (who could be named) desirous of marrying, sought alliance successively with no less than four different families,---all willing that the marriage should take place ; but, alas! on consulting the astrologer, on the first occasion, it was discovered, from comparing the nativities, that the planet Saturn was in the constellation Virgo, and that Mars was in the same quarter of the heavens, and

Thus, speaking generally, it may be said, that from the peasant in his field to the Ruler on his throne, from the ploughing of the soil to the movements of an army, Reason must be dethroned, and bow submissive to the despotism of astrologers.

that nuptials between such nativities would be unblessed with offspring ! On the negociation with the second family, the planets Saturn and Mars threatened death to the husband ! On the third occasion, the relentless astrologer foretold from the planets, that “ mutual enmitywould embitter the alliance formed under such conjunctions of the stars ! And in the fourth instance, the threat of death to the bridegroom blasted again his hopes of happiness !!

The young man himself, placing no faith in astrology, remonstrated against such fanciful obstacles to his hopes and union ; but the parents, sacrificing their own judgment, abandoned the happy prospects of their children, and surrendered their reason to the dictates of the astrologer. At length, in the negociation with a fifth family, the planets were favorable, and the parties were betrothed. But here again the influence of astrology interfered in a manner which may be mentioned, to shew the extent of controul exercised over the people by the priesthood, in whose hands are the mysteries of astrology. The wedding garments for the bridegroom and the bride, and for her establishment, were to be prepared. An event so important as this could not be undertaken without consulting the astrologer! the needles of the tailors could not be plied, if the mighty unconscious planets, rolling in their courses, were deemed unfavorable! The mistaken sage referred to his books, and to the stars, for the propitious time; and dictated,

« AnteriorContinuar »